So an electric carmaker decided that their vehicles need to be able to kill themselves.
NIO is perhaps best known for being the formerly fastest electric carmaker in the world. Their EP9 electric hypercar used to be the fastest electric vehicle to lap the Nurburgring but then lost its record to the Volkswagen I.D. R last summer.
Apparently incensed at their loss, NIO has decided to make it so any future electric car that loses its record will be to destroy itself in a sort of electric car seppuku. Sort of.
Yes, NIO has patented a vehicular self-destruct system. Uncovered by Automobile Magazine at the USPTO, the patent describes how an electric car could use its own battery to end its life.
But before you start thinking of a James Bond mobile that can explode at the press of a button, think again. NIO actually describes it as a safety feature to prevent a catastrophic battery failure from claiming human lives.
This is a little convoluted, so first a bit of background. Lithium-ion batteries in their current form can become unstable and meltdown if not carefully managed. That’s why we occasionally hear stories of a Tesla randomly catching fire and burning to the ground. These instances are rare and usually the result of some sort of damage to the battery’s systems.
NIO’s patent describes a monitoring system that will determine when the battery has been damaged and is in the process of a catastrophic meltdown. If it detects such a situation, then it will alert the driver and passengers to get out of the vehicle and then drive itself as far away as possible--preferably somewhere with water that’s also not near any buildings or vehicles.
Then the system will release whatever remaining safety lockouts that keep the battery from catching fire. After that, it’s bye-bye Nio, although more fiery and less explody.
The patent assumes the existence of autonomous driving software that can recognize both vehicles and water, which so far has never been described by any of the car companies working on autonomous driving. Still, Tesla should take note and maybe purchase the patent from NIO for its fleet of ticking timebombs.
(Source: Automobile Magazine)