Amazon's Phone-Charging Robot Will Spare You The Indignity Of Talking To Strangers

Tyler Durden's picture

Amazon is having a rough week.

The e-commerce powerhouse has celebrated a string of victories this year. Its stock price broke above $1,000 for the first time; it is presiding over an unprecedented retrenchment within the retail space as more than 8,000 brick-and-mortar stores are expected to close in the US this year, and the company announced plans to acquire yuppie favorite Whole Foods Market, promising to transform the company’s stores into laboratories for automation and AI where advanced sensors will perform tasks previously reserved for human cashiers. It also revealed that its “Prime Day” sale was the "Biggest Global Shopping Event in Amazon History", surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

But the string of good news came to an abrupt halt last week when Reuters reported that the top Democrat on the House antitrust subcommittee, David Civilline, has voiced concerns about Amazon's $13.7 billion plan to buy Whole Foods Market and requested in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee a hearing to examine the deal's potential impact on consumers – the first stirrings of what could metastasize into an anti-trust probe.

Adding to the antitrust concerns, Reuters reported Thursday that the FTC is investigating the company for allegedly misleading customers about its pricing discounts, citing a source close to the probe. The news sent Amazon shares lower in afternoon trade:

Amid the negative news, the company’s investors enjoyed a brief moment of levity when career website Ladders reported on a patent that was awarded to the company earlier in the week. The patent, first filed in 2015, revealed the company’s plans to build a robot that, using the company’s massive data-mining apparatus, would be able to track down desperate mobile-device users in crowed public spaces like an airport or concert venue and present them with the greatest gift of all: an opportunity to charge their phones.  



Here’s a quick rundown of how it’ll work, courtesy of Ladders:

“You will make a wireless request (perhaps with your last precious few moments of juice).


The robot will find you in a crowd using sensor data. Through a cloud-based application, the robot can even find you automatically when your power hits below 10%. Nothing, of course is free, so the robot will ask you to watch an ad, complete a survey, or pay some money.


The robot would be designed for public use in airports, hotels, and shopping malls—all locations where losing battery power can be particularly inconvenient. Of course, a device like this would be perfect for business travelers, who have become accustomed to carrying heavy external batteries or even bulky power strips.


Then: the robot provides sweet, precious electricity to your phone or iPad or laptop.”

As Ladders pointed out, the patent description explains why these robots could be useful, especially for professionals who are increasingly dependent on mobile devices.

“It can be quite inconvenient to a user when one of these devices runs out of battery power. This is especially true if the user does not have an available charging adapter for the device,” the patent reads. “Users may find themselves asking friends, or even strangers, to borrow a charging adapter.”

Indeed, as Ladders notes, “there is clearly an unmet market that an army of mobile-charging robots for your personal use can fill.”

Whether Amazon intends to move forward with production of the robot remains to be seen. The company has yet to comment publicly about the patent. But as it continues to test and refine its army of package-delivering drones, it’s unsurprising that Amazon is finding other uses for robotics.

But that’s Amazon: Working tirelessly to build a future where your phone battery never creeps below 10%.

Read the patent below:


2017.07.20amazonpatent by zerohedge on Scribd


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Yen Cross's picture

  Does it also give you you're pension fund balance?

Jim Sampson's picture

How about they use their money wisely and find a way to charge batteries instantly or maybe create a whole new battery for once since Elon's Musk can't.

jimmy c korn's picture

Smart Phones can do anything under the sun except keep a charge, You would have thunk they would have put some solar cells in there like those calculators have.

SafelyGraze's picture

it could make you watch an ad first

or pay money

or .. it could take some dna and perform a screening

or .. it could determine your race gender religion preferences

these are as good as money


FoggyWorld's picture

And last week there were articles about Amazon entertaining the thought of selling transcripts of the conversations people have in front of their whiz bang snooper, Alexa!   Jeff Orwell Bezos is his name.

Manthong's picture


You really never want a lithium to go below 45%.

Now, if Bezos can deliver a charging device while I am sitting in the gate room that turns off the quad rotors delivers a charge to the phone while it undulates rapidly in my lap… I think he has a winner.

Delayed departures would be way less irritating.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I don't think you understand how much power a smartphone uses nor how much power is held within one of the high density batteries commonly found in a smartphone these days. The fact the battery can melt itself and the phone tells you something about the power level.

As far as solar cells on the phone, you would need to cover the phone in solar cells just to approach the amount of power it needs. So how will you use the phone when it's covered in solar cells? Would you even by one? And what do you do at night.

So many questions, so little time. :-)

aurum4040's picture

There's colorless solar cells that are seated just below the screen on a newer Kyocera . Can't even tell it's there...with that being, said and As I mentioned above, you need a 70w panel at 17% efficiency to charge and iPhone and that would take 2 hours. 

Manthong's picture


CD… I cannot believe how ignorant some people here are.

We are supposed to be a little more knowledgeable.

I carry two Androids.. for different business reasons.

The larger Samsung S 5 on AT&T eats battery power like Joey Chestnut eats Hot Dogs

The smaller Samsung Core Prime on Verizon lasts forever.

The Core Prime was  700% less expensive and does most everything I need if for.

It does not work quite as well with Chromecast on the end point Wi-fi , but I can live with that.

JuliaS's picture

Fun fact - most "solar" calculators sold today don't actually have a solar panel in them. Just a battery and a dummy piece of dark glass not connected to anything internally. Apparently, battery-powered calculators don't sell, but spending a couple of extra cents on a charging circuit and a shard of photovoltaic cell is too expensive for the Chinese. So they engage in deception.

Google it, or search on youtube. You'll be surprised. I know I was.

Yen Cross's picture

 Julia , get long  $usd.

 That is all


Byte Me's picture

I'm using a Casio fx-451 on a regular basis.

It does not need a battery.

It has given good service since 1982.

FoggyWorld's picture

Amazon itself sells quite a few solar chargers for smart phones both Android and iPhone.   We are getting one in case of a power cut which happens from time to time.

Let it Go's picture

Amazon is not the only vendor for such items, screw them and shop elsewhere!

aurum4040's picture

Samsung made a solar phone in 2009. Kyocera is working w SunPartners right now refining their own offering. Problem is you need 70w panel to effectively charge an iPhone - in 2 hours at 17% efficiency. A 70 watt panel is .75m x .75m ( roughly). Do you understand why we don't have solar phones yet (mainstream)? It's going to be a few years but it will happen . Probably 5 - 10 years...Alot of work needs to be done before we get there. 

Yen Cross's picture

 You lost me  @ "their money".

Yen Cross's picture

 Insert the Non-GAAP figures,

 These figures trail back to '07.  I don't need your approval bitchez.

 Forward P/E Distortions: -, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) | Seeking Alpha

yomutti2's picture

Amazon is a great company. Scabby Russians can only dream of having such innovation where they live!

PT's picture

It's called an external battery pack phone charger.  Keep one in your pocket and you won't need a bot or an app.  You can even find them in vending machines.
Some people just keep their normal chargers with them and then plug into whatever power point they find handy.

Honest Sam's picture

I will buy, nay, pre-fund any company with an invention that will eliminate any wire from my life.

The number of wires, the linguini one needs to keep their batteries in various devices from petering out, is abominable.  

Commuting to two different locations 300 miles apart having to pack wires and chargers or keep two different sets, is ridiculous. 

Count me in as an early fan. 

If wireles can be dispensed with, due to another invention that makes my various batteries last for months, that gets my money as well.

Wire is such an antediluvian way to charge chit.  

Gonna buy some more 2020 AMZN calls. 

LetThemEatRand's picture

Ever wonder why "free" apps want access to your location, contacts, microphone, photos, etc?

Freedom isn't free.  And here's an example that even millenials can understand.  Think Facebook, instagram, snapchat, etc.

Yen Cross's picture

 Another generation of pinheads, has come of age,

  These kids are so far ahead of everything, if they'ld just be humble.

BlindMonkey's picture

Funny thing, I thought the Amazon drone bullshit was a hoax.  Then it turned out to be true-ish.  I learned and can totally see Amazon power butlers running around Hartsfield terminals waiting to have you put your dongle into the mechanical critter.  

any_mouse's picture

"your dongle into the mechanical critter"

I think Haneda and sex bots.

FixItAgainTony's picture

"Drop the charger, you have 5 seconds to comply." -- ED209

HRH Feant2's picture

Better than a BT-1100 on a rampage! Those things will kill you!

Son of Loki's picture

Bezos has to colluding with the Russians to be so victorious. I suggest we open an investigation.

lester1's picture

How about Robo bartenders?..with a face like Amber Heard?

slightlyskeptical's picture

I didnt realize female bartenders have faces

moorewasthebestbond's picture

What is the fascination with this very forgettable b-movie actress?

any_mouse's picture

Effing power users and they can't be bothered to carry a power pack?

They might find these robots stuck in toilets.

moorewasthebestbond's picture

The 1980s is on the phone.


It wants it's yuppies back.

navy62802's picture

After all, why talk to another human? Right? RIGHT??!!!?/

pizdowitz's picture

Can this "robot" also tell me when my zipper is undone...

Ben A Drill's picture

Bad idea, next year fashions will be solar powered clothes. USB jack included.

silverer's picture

What if the robot hurts your feelings? Then what?

oldguyonBMXbike's picture

I plan to make a robot chop shop and steal all the robots and sell their parts.

saldulilem's picture

I am here to talk to you today... about the dangers of talking to strangers. For I, Mary Ellen Moriarty, once talked to strangers.

Honest Sam's picture

And I, Sherlock Holmes, will hunt you down like a Mother Polar Bear mated with a Grizzly.

machiavellian-trader's picture

Robot or consumers could just buy a Blackberry with a bettery that last all day.

This is for iphone groupies that spend their entire life attached to a wall socket,

Plugged in junkies.

cynical_skeptic's picture

god forbid ever needing a reason to actually speak with another human being.

Panic Mode's picture

Amazon, I need a robot to wipe my arse, too busy texting people while I'm having a dump.

Debugas's picture

maybe one could in general get a patent on "providing services"

Let it Go's picture

If Amazon is having a rough week it has not been reflected it its stock price!

Almost every day we see articles about how Amazon is buying this or that company or expanding into another business sector. Amazon's recent announcement they were purchasing Whole Foods got me thinking their engulf and devour strategy will eventually max out then come back to haunt them by generating a backlash and scorn.

I deal with small businesses on a day to day basis and will tell you they face many challenges and that they are very important to our communities, society, and the economy. This is why "Small business failures should receive a lot more attention than they do."  Never forget that Small business is the largest job creator in America, more in the article below;

Last of the Middle Class's picture

Betcha a thousand dollars it sucks data through the charging cord. Old trick, new spin. Here, let me charge your iphone, lol.