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Automatically plugging car system

Park in your garage, outlet attaches to car
 
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One of the best ways to improve engine fuel economy, and reduce engine wear in winter is to make use of an engine block heater. But plugging one in is a task easily forgotten.

This idea reduces the odds of forgetting to plug the car in.

First, on the car:

Whenever one parks at home or in certain programmed locations (identified with the aid of GPS), the plug for the engine block heater is automatically extended, and is held rigidly in a particular position (relative to the car) until a button is manually on the holder, in which case the plug and it's cord can be pulled out several feet.

If power is not supplied to the plug (and neither the 'release' or 'retract' buttons are pressed), within a minute or so an alarm sounds, to remind the user to plug the car in. A text message might also be sent. A minute after that, the alarm turns off, and the plug retracts, to reduce the chance of vandalism.

Secondly, in one's home garage, there'd be a robotic arm, with an AC outlet mounted on the end, with enough "reach" to push the outlet over the car's plug.

Getting the outlet to go over the plug would be accomplished partly by using a wireless locator beacon in the plug, and partly through clever mechanical design, so that the robot arm doesn't need super-precise alignment.

Naturally, the robot outlet would be activated by a wireless signal, sent out from the car when it parks in the garage.

When one starts the engine, the robotic arm pulls the outlet off of the car's plug, and the plug retracts into the car.

Naturally, this same system can also be used to charge the car's battery... but an engine block heater is at least as important.

goldbb, Jan 22 2014

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