(19)
(11)EP 2 953 238 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
18.04.2018 Bulletin 2018/16

(21)Application number: 13873862.0

(22)Date of filing:  11.11.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H02J 7/00(2006.01)
B63G 8/00(2006.01)
H02J 7/02(2016.01)
H02J 50/12(2016.01)
B60L 11/18(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2013/080447
(87)International publication number:
WO 2014/119085 (07.08.2014 Gazette  2014/32)

(54)

CONTACTLESS POWER SUPPLY SYSTEM

KONTAKTLOSES ENERGIEVERSORGUNGSSYSTEM

SYSTÈME D'ALIMENTATION ÉLECTRIQUE SANS CONTACT


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 04.02.2013 JP 2013019614

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.12.2015 Bulletin 2015/50

(73)Proprietor: IHI Corporation
Tokyo 135-8710 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • NIIZUMA, Motonao
    Tokyo 135-8710 (JP)

(74)Representative: Carpmael, Robert Maurice Charles et al
Marks & Clerk LLP 90 Long Acre
London WC2E 9RA
London WC2E 9RA (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 838 174
JP-A- 2005 168 085
JP-A- 2010 523 030
JP-A- 2013 051 855
US-A1- 2010 007 214
JP-A- 2004 289 953
JP-A- 2005 210 843
JP-A- 2011 035 953
US-A1- 2008 144 442
US-B1- 6 390 012
  
  • KOJIYA T ET AL: "Automatic power supply system to underwater vehicles utilizing noncontacting technology", OCEANS '04. MTTS/IEEE TECHNO-OCEAN '04 KOBE, JAPAN NOV. 9-12, 2004, PISCATAWAY, NJ, USA,IEEE, vol. 4, 9 November 2004 (2004-11-09), pages 2341-2345, XP010776789, DOI: 10.1109/OCEANS.2004.1406521 ISBN: 978-0-7803-8669-3
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

[Technical Field]



[0001] The present invention relates to a wireless power supply system.

[0002] Priority is claimed on Japanese Patent Application No. 2013-019614, filed on February 4, 2013.

[Background Art]



[0003] For example, Patent Documents 1 and 2 disclose a wireless power supply system that wirelessly supplies electric power from a storage battery installed in an underwater vehicle to a storage battery installed in an underwater facility. Since oxygen cannot be supplied from the surroundings under water unlike on the ground, an underwater vehicle often uses a storage battery (such as a lithium ion battery, a nickel hydrogen battery, or a lead storage battery) as a power source.

[0004] The term "wireless" in such a wireless power supply system means that an electric power transmission wire of a power-supplying means does not directly contact with an electric power transmission wire of a power-receiving means, and does not mean that a structure in which one of the power-supplying means and the power-receiving means is installed is not in contact with a structure in which the other of the power-supplying means and the power-receiving means is installed. For stable transmission of electric power, it is desirable that the positional relationship between the power-supplying means and the power-receiving means be fixed. Accordingly, as disclosed in Patent Documents 1 and 2, both structures are firmly fitted and fixed to each other during the transmission of electric power.

[Citation List]


[Patent Document]



[0005] 

[Patent Document 1]
Published Japanese Translation No. 2010-523030 of the PCT International Publication for Patent Applications

[Patent Document 2]
Japanese Unexamined Patent Application, First Publication No. H2-32721


[Summary of Invention]


[Technical Problem]



[0006] However, when a target of electric power supply is an underwater vehicle on a mission such as underwater exploration, the underwater vehicle has to temporarily stop the mission for electric power supply, and an availability of the underwater vehicle decreases.

[0007] In addition, under water, a large force may act in a direction in which the structures are separated from each other due to a rapid change of a tidal current, an influence from big waves, collisions with fish, or the like. When the large force acts, if the structures are firmly fitted to each other as disclosed in Patent Documents 1 and 2, the fitted portion may be damaged and may have to be repaired, and an operator's burden will increase.

[0008] The present invention is made in consideration of the aforementioned problems and an object of the present invention is to provide a wireless power supply system that can enhance an availability of an underwater vehicle and prevent the underwater vehicle from being damaged.

[0009] US6390012 and US2010/007214 also disclose power supply systems. The features known in combination therefrom are placed in the preamble of claim 1 appended hereto.

[Solution to Problem]



[0010] According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a wireless power supply system including: a first underwater vehicle that has a power-receiving means for wirelessly receiving electric power; and a second underwater vehicle that has a power-supplying means for wirelessly supplying electric power and transmits electric power between the power-receiving means and the power-supplying means while moving in parallel to the first underwater vehicle.

[0011] A second aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the first aspect, wherein the second underwater vehicle is driven with a storage battery, and wherein the wireless power supply system further includes: a power-supplying station that supplies electric power to the storage battery; and a control means for making the second underwater vehicle return to the power-supplying station based on a state of charge of the storage battery.

[0012] A third aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the second aspect, wherein the control means stops the wireless supply of electric power and makes the second underwater vehicle return to the power-supplying station when the state of charge of the storage battery is equal to or less than a threshold value.

[0013]  A fourth aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the third aspect, wherein the control means repetitively updates the threshold value based on a distance of the second underwater vehicle from the power-supplying station.

[0014] A fifth aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to any one of the second to fourth aspects, wherein the power-supplying means supplies electric power stored in the storage battery.

[0015] A sixth aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to any one of the first to fifth aspects, further comprising a positioning means for positioning the power-receiving means and the power-supplying means when performing the wireless supply of electric power.

[0016] A seventh aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the sixth aspect, wherein the positioning means includes a suction means for attaching the first underwater vehicle and the second underwater vehicle by suction.

[0017] An eighth aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the sixth aspect, wherein the positioning means includes a magnetic attachment means for magnetically attaching the first underwater vehicle and the second underwater vehicle.

[0018] A ninth aspect of the present invention provides the wireless power supply system according to the sixth aspect, wherein the positioning means includes: a marker that is installed in the first underwater vehicle; and a marker detecting means installed in the second underwater vehicle so as to detect the marker.

[Advantageous Effects of Invention]



[0019] According to the present invention, a second underwater vehicle wirelessly supplies electric power to a first underwater vehicle while moving in parallel to the first underwater vehicle. Accordingly, in the present invention, the first underwater vehicle can be supplied with electric power while carrying out a mission, and the availability of the first underwater vehicle is increased. The wireless supply of electric power is possible even when positions of the power-receiving means and the power-supplying means are misaligned to some extent. As the second underwater vehicle moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle, it is possible to eliminate necessity for providing a fitting portion which may be damaged when an external force is applied.

[0020] Therefore, according to the present invention, it is possible to provide a wireless power supply system that can enhance an availability of an underwater vehicle and prevent the underwater vehicle from being damaged.

[Brief Description of Drawings]



[0021] 

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an entire configuration of a wireless power supply system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a first underwater vehicle and a second underwater vehicle according to the embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a power-supplying station according to the embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a positioning means for positioning a power-receiving coil and a power-supplying coil according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a positioning means for positioning a power-receiving coil and a power-supplying coil according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a positioning means for positioning a power-receiving coil and a power-supplying coil according to still another embodiment of the present invention.


[Description of Embodiments]



[0022] Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

[0023] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an entire configuration of a wireless power supply system 1 according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a first underwater vehicle 10 and a second underwater vehicle 20 according to the embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of a power-supplying station 30 according to the embodiment of the present invention.

[0024] In the wireless power supply system 1 according to this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, a second underwater vehicle 20 supplies electric power to a plurality of first underwater vehicles 10 on a mission, for example, of undersea research for ocean development. The first underwater vehicles 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 according to this embodiment are autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles that can tracklessly navigate under water, with the first underwater vehicles 10 being used for undersea exploration and the second underwater vehicle 20 being used for power supply.

[0025] The first underwater vehicles 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 have similar shapes and sizes as shown in FIG. 2. When the first underwater vehicles 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 have similar shape and size, influences of disturbance such as water resistance applied to the first underwater vehicles 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 during navigation are substantially equal to each other, and parallel navigation control in the wireless power supply system 1 is facilitated. Actuators of the first underwater vehicles 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 have substantially similar basic configurations. Here, "similar" does not mean that they are completely the same, but means that the parallel navigation of the second underwater vehicle 20 with the first underwater vehicles 10 can be controlled so that wireless supply of electric power from the second underwater vehicle 20 to the first underwater vehicles 10 will be performed without any trouble.

[0026] Examples of the actuators include a main thruster 2, upper and lower rudders (upper and lower rudder fins) 3 and right and left elevators (right and left elevator fins, which are not shown in figures) in the rear part and a vertical thruster (which is not shown in figures) and a horizontal thruster (which is not shown in figures) in the front part. The main thruster 2 is used for speed control. The lateral angle control is performed by controlling the lateral angles of the upper and lower rudders 3 functioning as a steering apparatus, and the horizontal thruster is also used when turning in a smaller radius. The elevation angle control is performed by controlling the elevation angles of the right and left elevators functioning as a steering apparatus, and the vertical thruster is also used when turning in a smaller radius.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 2, each first underwater vehicle 10 is provided with a power-receiving coil (power-receiving means) 11. Meanwhile, the second underwater vehicle 20 is provided with a power-supplying coil (power-supplying means) 21. The power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 are disposed behind (inside of) cover members 4 that are formed of a material having sufficient water resistance and pressure resistance and transmissibility of an electromagnetic field used for wireless transmission of electric power, that is, a non-electrically conductive and nonmagnetic material (such as plastics or fiber-reinforced plastics). The surface of the cover member 4 is shaped to be smooth, so that fluid resistance that disturbs navigation is reduced.

[0028] The power-receiving coil 11 is disposed in the upper part of a substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10. The power-receiving coil 11 has a coil diameter substantially equal to that of the power-supplying coil 21 and wirelessly receives AC power by being electromagnetically coupled to the power-supplying coil 21. Since an electrode or a connector exposed to the outside is not necessary in the wireless supply of electric power, possibility of the electrode or connector being destroyed by an external influence is eliminated and corrosion of the electrode in water is prevented Here, "substantially equal" does not mean that they are completely equal, but means that they are so similar that electric power can be wirelessly supplied from the power-supplying coil 21 to the power-receiving coil 11. As long as the wireless supply of electric power is possible, the shape or type of the power-receiving coil 11 or the power-supplying coil 21 can be arbitrary, and the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 may have different shapes.

[0029] The wireless supply of electric power from the power-supplying coil 21 to the power-receiving coil 11 in the wireless power supply system 1 according to this embodiment is performed based on a magnetic resonance method. Each of the power-supplying coil 21 and the power-receiving coil 11 is connected to a resonance capacitor (which is not shown in figures) for constituting a resonance circuit. Furthermore, the capacitance values of the resonance capacitors are set such that the resonance frequency of the power-supply resonance circuit including the power-supplying coil 21 and the resonance capacitor is equal to the resonance frequency of the power-receiving resonance circuit including the power-receiving coil 11 and the resonance capacitor, for example.

[0030] The first underwater vehicle 10 is provided with a power-receiving circuit 12, a storage battery 13, an inverter 14, a motor 15, and a mission instrument 16, in addition to the power-receiving coil 11.

[0031] The power-receiving circuit 12 is a power conversion circuit that converts electric power received from the power-supplying coil 21 into DC power and supplies the DC power to the storage battery 13. The power-receiving circuit 12 charges the storage battery 13 by supplying a charging current corresponding to the state of charge of the storage battery 13 to the storage battery 13.

[0032] The storage battery 13 is a secondary battery that can store sufficient electric power as a driving power source of the first underwater vehicle 10 and is a lithium ion battery or a nickel-hydrogen secondary battery, for example. The storage battery 13 is charged with the DC power supplied from the power-receiving circuit 12 and supplies (discharges) driving power for navigation to the inverter 14.

[0033] The inverter 14 converts the supplied DC power into AC power and supplies three-phase current for driving to the motor 15. The motor 15 is connected to the main thruster 2 and rotates the main thruster 2. The electric power of the storage battery 13 is supplied to other actuators as well as the main thruster 2.

[0034] The mission instrument 16 is an instrument appropriate for a mission of the first underwater vehicle 10 and is a SONAR (sound navigation and ranging) for examining the topography of a seabed, for example. The mission instrument 16 is installed in the lower part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10. The mission instrument 16 of the first underwater vehicle 10 may be an instrument for acquiring stratum information of the seabed, distribution information of specific chemical substances of seawater, and the like as well as the topographical information of the seabed.

[0035] The power-supplying coil 21 is installed in the lower part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the second underwater vehicle 20. The second underwater vehicle 20 is provided with a power-supplying circuit 22, a storage battery 23, an inverter 24, a motor 25, a power-supply navigation control device (control means) 26, and a communication device 27, in addition to the power-supplying coil 21. The second underwater vehicle 20 is further provided with a power-receiving coil 28 and a power-receiving circuit 29 for receiving electric power from a power-supplying station 30 to be described later. The configurations of the inverter 24, the motor 25, the power-receiving coil 28, and the power-receiving circuit 29 will be omitted for the purpose of avoiding repetition of the aforementioned description.

[0036] The power-supplying circuit 22 is a power conversion circuit that converts DC power supplied from the storage battery 23 into AC power and thatsupplies the AC power to the power-supplying coil 21. The power-supplying circuit 22 supplies the power-supplying coil 21 with an AC current corresponding to the resonance frequency of the wireless power supply using a magnetic resonance method. The storage battery 23 according to this embodiment serves as a driving power source of the second underwater vehicle 20 and also serves as a power supply source to the first underwater vehicle 10. Since the second underwater vehicle 20 is not equipped with the mission instrument 16 and the empty space can be utilized, the storage battery 23 has sufficient capacity and size which is double or more of those of the storage battery 13 of the first underwater vehicle 10.

[0037] The power-supply navigation control device 26 controls the power-supply navigation of the second underwater vehicle 20. The power-supply navigation control device 26 causes the second underwater vehicle 20 to move in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 at the time of wireless supply of electric power by controlling the actuators installed in the second underwater vehicle 20. Specifically, the power-supply navigation control device 26 identifies the current position of the second underwater vehicle 20 and controls the second underwater vehicle to move in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10. The power-supply navigation control device 26 includes the communication device 27 for identifying the current position of the second underwater vehicle 20.

[0038]  The communication device 27 communicates with a communication device 34 installed in the power-supplying station 30 as shown in FIG. 3. The power-supplying station 30 is provided with a power-supplying coil 31, a power-supplying circuit 32, and an external power source 33 for supplying electric power to the storage battery 23 of the second underwater vehicle 20. The wireless supply of electric power from the power-supplying coil 31 to the power-receiving coil 28 is carried out based on the magnetic resonance method as described above.

[0039] For underwater positioning, acoustic positioning using ultrasonic waves is generally employed. For example, an USBL (ultra-short baseline) method may be employed for the acoustic positioning. In the USBL, a distance to a target (second underwater vehicle 20) is determined from a round-trip time of sound waves and a sound velocity in the water. An angle will be determined from a phase difference of sound waves in a wave receiver array (an array in which a plurality of wave receivers are arranged) of the USBL and the relative position of the target (second underwater vehicle 20) in a three-dimensional space relative to a USBL transceiver (wave transmitter and receiver) will be calculated.

[0040] In the power-supplying station 30 equipped with the transceiver, by adding the relative position to the target (second underwater vehicle 20) to the position (longitude and latitude) of the transceiver in the terrestrial coordinate system and an attitude angle (the inclination from a horizontal line and the azimuth), the latitude and longitude of the target (second underwater vehicle 20) is acquired. By transmitting the position to the second underwater vehicle 20 by acoustic communication, the second underwater vehicle 20 can acquire the current position. An inertial navigation method may be employed as the underwater positioning or may be used together with the acoustic positioning in order to enhance accuracy of the navigation.

[0041] The inertial navigation method is a method of measuring the attitude angle (the lateral angle, the elevation angle, and the azimuth angle) of a target (second underwater vehicle 20) and the velocity of the target (second underwater vehicle 20) relative to the seabed in a three-dimensional space using a sensor (for example, a Doppler flowmeter and the like) installed in the target (second underwater vehicle 20) at short time intervals, calculating the direction in which the target moves in the terrestrial coordinates and the distance the target moves, and compositing vector of the moving distance and the direction. The inertial navigation method has a merit that a position can be measured at short intervals, but a position error increases with the lapse of time. Hence, accumulation of the position error can be prevented by periodically replacing the position measured by the inertial navigation method with the position measured by the USBL in which the position error does not increase with the lapse of time.

[0042] The power-supply navigation control device 26 performs control of making the second underwater vehicle 20 return to the power-supplying station 30 based on the state of charge of the storage battery 23. The power-supply navigation control device 26 according to this embodiment performs control of stopping the wireless supply of electric power and making the second underwater vehicle 20 return to the power-supplying station 30 when the state of charge of the storage battery 23 is equal to or less than a threshold value. The threshold value in this embodiment is set to a value for securing electric power required for navigation of the second underwater vehicle 20 returning to the power-supplying station 30.

[0043] The power-supply navigation control device 26 is configured to repetitively update the threshold value depending on the distance of the second underwater vehicle 20 from the power-supplying station 30. That is, the farther the second underwater vehicle 20 moves away from the power-supplying station 30, the larger the electric power required for the returning navigation to the power-supplying station 30 becomes. Accordingly, the power-supply navigation control device 26 is configured to repetitively update the threshold value to a larger value as the second underwater vehicle 20 moves farther away from the power-supplying station 30 and to repetitively update the threshold value to a smaller value as the second underwater vehicle moves closer to the power-supplying station 30.

[0044] The power supply operation of the wireless power supply system 1 having the above-mentioned configuration will be described below.

[0045] In the wireless power supply system 1, as shown in FIG. 1, the second underwater vehicle 20 wirelessly supplies electric power to the first underwater vehicle 10 on a predetermined mission. The first underwater vehicle 10 navigates, for example, a predetermined route (Routes A to C) in the vicinity of the seabed in order to carry out the mission. Routes A to C of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the current position information of the first underwater vehicle 10 are transmitted to the second underwater vehicle 20 through the communication device 27, and the second underwater vehicle 20 performs power-supply navigation based on the position information and its own current position information.

[0046] The second underwater vehicle 20 moves so as to approach the first underwater vehicle 10 that is a power supply target and moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 while the approached state is maintained (indicated by reference signs a to c). The second underwater vehicle 20 performs the wireless transmission of electric power between the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 to charge the storage battery 13 of the first underwater vehicle 10 while moving in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0047] In the wireless power supply system 1 according to this embodiment, since the wireless supply of electric power is carried out while the second underwater vehicle 20 moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10, the first underwater vehicle 10 can receive electric power while carrying out its mission and it is thus possible to enhance the availability of the first underwater vehicle 10.

[0048] In this embodiment, the magnetic resonance method is employed for transmission of electric power under water between the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21, and the magnetic resonance method has higher tolerance to a positional misalignment of the resonance coils installed in the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 compared to an electromagnetic induction method and thus can realize long-distance transmission of electric power with high efficiency.

[0049] Therefore, according to this embodiment, since a high-precision positioning mechanism as in the related art is not necessary and a fixing means such as a mechanical fitting structure is not used, the underwater vehicles can be easily detached from each other when an external force is applied. In this embodiment, since positioning is facilitated at the time of starting parallel movement of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 thanks to the high tolerance to the positional misalignment between the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21, it is possible to easily transmit electric power under water between the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20.

[0050] In FIG. 1, when the charging of the first underwater vehicle 10 is completed, the second underwater vehicle 20 generally returns to the power-supplying station 30, but when there are a plurality of first underwater vehicles 10 as in this embodiment, the second underwater vehicle moves so as to approach the next first underwater vehicle 10 that is a power supply target and wirelessly supplies electric power thereto as described above. When all the first underwater vehicles 10 that are power supply targets are completely charged, the second underwater vehicle 20 returns to the power-supplying station 30 and the storage battery 23 is charged by the wireless transmission of electric power between the power-receiving coil 28 and the power-supplying coil 31 as shown in FIG. 3.

[0051] More specifically, in FIG. 1, the second underwater vehicle 20 first moves so as to approach the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route A, moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route A while the approached state is maintained (indicated by reference sign a), and wirelessly supplies electric power to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route A. Accordingly, the storage battery 13 of the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route A is charged. Then, the second underwater vehicle 20 moves so as to approach the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route B, moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route B while the approached state is maintained (indicated by reference sign b), and wirelessly supplies electric power to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route B. Accordingly, the storage battery 13 of the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route B is charged. Then, the second underwater vehicle 20 moves so as to approach the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route C, moves in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route C while the approached state is maintained (indicated by reference sign c), and wirelessly supplies electric power to the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route C. Accordingly, the storage battery 13 of the first underwater vehicle 10 navigating Route C is charged. Since charging of all the first underwater vehicles 10 that are power supply targets is completed, the second underwater vehicle 20 returns to the power-supplying station 30 and charges the storage battery 23 by the wireless transmission of electric power between the power-receiving coil 28 and the power-supplying coil 31 as shown in FIG. 3.

[0052] When the plurality of first underwater vehicles 10 are supplied with electric power from the single second underwater vehicle 20 in this way, the navigation distance of the second underwater vehicle 20 is large and thus the amount of supply power consumption also increases. Accordingly, the wireless power supply system 1 includes the power-supply navigation control device 26 that makes the second underwater vehicle 20 return to the power-supplying station 30 based on the state of charge of the storage battery 23.

[0053] Specifically, the power-supply navigation control device 26 communicates with the communication device 34 of the power-supplying station 30 using the communication device 27 and acquires distance information of the second underwater vehicle 20 from the power-supplying station 30.

[0054] Then, the power-supply navigation control device 26 calculates electric power required for the second underwater vehicle 20 to return to the power-supplying station 30 based on the distance information and monitors the state of charge of the storage battery 23 based on the calculated electric power. When the state of charge of the storage battery 23 is likely to be less than the calculated electric power, specifically, when the state of charge is equal to or less than a threshold value obtained by adding a predetermined margin to the calculated electric power, the power-supply navigation control device 26 stops the wireless supply of electric power and forces the second underwater vehicle 20 to return to the power-supplying station 30. Accordingly, it is possible to secure electric power required for the navigation of the second underwater vehicle 20 returning to the power-supplying station 30.

[0055] As described above, according to this embodiment, by employing the configuration including the first underwater vehicle 10 having the power-receiving coil 11 for wirelessly receiving electric power and the second underwater vehicle 20 having the power-supplying coil 21 for wirelessly supplying electric power and transmitting electric power between the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 while moving in parallel to the first underwater vehicle 10, it is possible to provide a wireless power supply system 1 that can enhance the availability of the first underwater vehicle 10 and to prevent the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 from being damaged due to an influence of an external force.

[0056] While the exemplary embodiment of the present invention has been described with reference to the accompanying drawings, the present invention is not limited to the embodiments. Various shapes and combinations of the elements described in the embodiment are only examples and can be modified in various forms depending on design requirements without departing from the gist of the present invention.

[0057] For example, in order to enhance power efficiency when the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 move in parallel, a positioning means 40 for positioning the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 may be provided as shown in FIGS. 4 through 6.

[0058] FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing the configuration of the positioning means 40 for positioning the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0059] The positioning means 40 shown in FIG. 4 includes a suction means 41 for attaching the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 by suction. The suction means 41 shown in FIG. 4 is constituted by a suction pad member 42 installed in the second underwater vehicle 20 and is configured to press the suction pad member 42 against the flat portion of the cover member 4 of the first underwater vehicle 10 for attachment.

[0060] According to this configuration, it is possible to position the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 to enhance the power supply efficiency. Furthermore, it is not necessary to install a mechanical fitting structure in the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20. Accordingly, when an external force is applied, it is possible to shake off the attachment force of the suction means 41 and to allow the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 to be easily detached from each other.

[0061] When the movement in parallel is started, the suction pad of the suction pad member 42 may be drained with a pump that is not shown. When the movement in parallel is ended, a valve (not shown in figures) connecting the inside and the outside of the suction pad of the suction pad member 42 may be opened to inject water into the suction pad.

[0062] FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing the configuration of the positioning means 40 for positioning the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

[0063] The positioning means 40 shown in FIG. 5 includes a magnetic attachment means 43 for magnetically attaching the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20. The magnetic attachment means 43 shown in FIG. 5 includes an electromagnet 44 installed in the second underwater vehicle 20 and an iron piece 45 installed in the first underwater vehicle 10, and is configured to perform the positioning through mutual attraction between the electromagnet and the iron piece on the rear side of the cover member 4.

[0064] According to this configuration, it is possible to position the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 to enhance the power supply efficiency. It is not necessary to install a mechanical fitting structure in the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20. Accordingly, when an external force is applied, it is possible to shake off the magnetic attachment force of the magnetic attachment means 43 and to allow the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 2 to be easily detached from each other.

[0065] From the viewpoint of power consumption, it is preferable that the electromagnet 44 be turned "ON" when the movement in parallel is started and the electromagnet 44 be turned "OFF" when the movement in parallel ends.

[0066] FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing the configuration of the positioning means 40 for positioning the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

[0067] The positioning means 40 shown in FIG. 6 includes markers 46 installed in the first underwater vehicle 10 and a marker detecting means 47 installed in the second underwater vehicle 20 so as to detect the markers 46. The marker detecting means 47 shown in FIG. 6 is constituted by an underwater camera (preferably equipped with an illuminator) and is configured to detect an image of the markers 46 provided on the front and rear portions between which the power-receiving coil 11 is placed.

[0068] According to this configuration, by measuring the positional misalignment of the second underwater vehicle 20 from the first underwater vehicle 10 and correcting the navigation route of the second underwater vehicle 20 so as to correct the positional misalignment through image processing, it is possible to position the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 and to enhance the power supply efficiency.

[0069] The marker detecting means 47 is not limited to the underwater camera, but may be an ultrasonic sensor that detects the markers 46, for example, from a reflection intensity and a reflection time of ultrasonic waves.

[0070] The configuration in which the second underwater vehicle 20 includes the power-supplying coil 21 and the power-receiving coil 28 has been described in this embodiment, but the second underwater vehicle 20 may be provided with a single coil capable of wirelessly supplying electric power in two-ways, so as to be used as a power-receiving coil when receiving electric power from the power-supplying station 30 and to be used as a power-supplying coil when supplying electric power to the first underwater vehicle 10. In this case, the power-receiving coil 11 of the first underwater vehicle 10 can be installed in the lower part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the single coil for wirelessly supplying electric power in two-ways can be installed in the upper part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the second underwater vehicle 20.

[0071] In the above-mentioned embodiment, the storage battery 23 used as the driving power source of the second underwater vehicle 20 is also used as the power supply source of the first underwater vehicle 10, but another storage battery may be provided.

[0072] It has been described in the above-mentioned embodiment that the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle 20 are autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles capable of tracklessly navigating under water, but at least one of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the second underwater vehicle may be a manned underwater vehicle or the like.

[0073] In the above-mentioned embodiment, the power-receiving coil 11 is arranged in the upper part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the power-supplying coil 21 is arranged in the lower part of the substantially cylindrical main body of the second underwater vehicle 20, but another arrangement may be employed as long as the power-receiving coil 11 and the power-supplying coil 21 are made to face and approach each other so as to enable the wireless supply of electric power from the power-supplying coil 21 to the power-receiving coil 11 when the first underwater vehicle and the second underwater vehicle move in parallel. For example, the power-receiving coil 11 may be arranged on the left side surface of the substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the power-supplying coil 21 may be arranged on the right side surface of the substantially cylindrical main body of the second underwater vehicle 20. Alternatively, the power-receiving coil 11 may be arranged on the right side surface of the substantially cylindrical main body of the first underwater vehicle 10 and the power-supplying coil 21 may be arranged on the left side surface of the substantially cylindrical main body of the second underwater vehicle 20.

[0074] The magnetic resonance method is suitably employed as the wireless power supply method used in the present invention, but another wireless power supply method such as an electromagnetic induction method may be used if a decrease in performance such as a decrease in power transmission efficiency is allowed.

[Industrial Applicability]



[0075] It is possible to provide a wireless power supply system that can enhance an availability of an underwater vehicle and prevent the underwater vehicle from being damaged.

[Reference Signs List]



[0076] 

1 Wireless power supply system

10 First underwater vehicle

11 Power-receiving coil (power-receiving means)

20 Second underwater vehicle

21 Power-suppling coil (power-supplying means)

23 Storage battery

26 Power-supply navigation control device (control means)

30 Power-supply station

40 Positioning means

41 Attachment means

43 Magnetic attachment means

46 Marker

47 Marker detecting means




Claims

1. A wireless power supply system (1) comprising:

a first underwater vehicle (10) that has a power-receiving means (11) for wirelessly receiving electric power; and

a second underwater vehicle (20) that has a power-supplying means (21) for wirelessly supplying electric power and transmits electric power between the power-receiving means (11) and the power-supplying means (21) while moving in parallel to the first underwater vehicle (10),

characterized in that the second underwater vehicle (20) is driven with a storage battery (23), and

the wireless power supply system (1) further comprising:

a power-supplying station (30) that supplies electric power to the storage battery (23); and

a control means (26) for making the second underwater vehicle (20) return to the power-supplying station (30) based on a state of charge of the storage battery (23).


 
2. The wireless power supply system (1) according to claim 1, wherein the control means (26) stops the wireless supply of electric power and makes the second underwater vehicle (20) return to the power-supplying station (30) when the state of charge of the storage battery (23) is equal to or less than a threshold value.
 
3. The wireless power supply system (1) according to claim 2, wherein the control means (26) repetitively updates the threshold value based on a distance of the second underwater vehicle (20) from the power-supplying station (30).
 
4. The wireless power supply system (1) according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the power-supplying means (21) supplies electric power stored in the storage battery (23).
 
5. The wireless power supply system (1) according to any one of claims 1 to 4, further comprising a positioning means (40) for positioning the power-receiving means (11) and the power-supplying means (21) when performing the wireless supply of electric power.
 
6. The wireless power supply system (1) according to claim 5, wherein the positioning means (40) includes a suction means (41) for attaching the first underwater vehicle (10) and the second underwater vehicle (20) by suction.
 
7. The wireless power supply system (1) according to claim 5, wherein the positioning means (40) includes a magnetic attachment means (43) for magnetically attaching the first underwater vehicle (10) and the second underwater vehicle (20).
 
8. The wireless power supply system (1) according to claim 5, wherein the positioning means (40) includes:

a marker (46) that is installed in the first underwater vehicle (10); and

a marker detecting means (47) installed in the second underwater vehicle (20) so as to detect the marker (46).


 


Ansprüche

1. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1), Folgendes umfassend:

ein erstes Unterwasserfahrzeug (10), das ein Energieempfangsmittel (11) zum drahtlosen Empfangen von elektrischer Energie hat; und

ein zweites Unterwasserfahrzeug (20), das ein Energieversorgungsmittel (21) für die drahtlose Zuführung von elektrischer Energie hat, und elektrische Energie zwischen dem Energieempfangsmittel (11) und dem Energieversorgungsmittel (21) überträgt, während es sich parallel zum ersten Unterwasserfahrzeug (10) bewegt,

dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das zweite Unterwasserfahrzeug (20) durch eine Speicherbatterie (23) angetrieben wird, und

das drahtlose Energieversorgungssystem (1) außerdem umfasst:

eine Energieversorgungsstation (30), die elektrische Energie an die Speicherbatterie (23) liefert; und

ein Steuermittel (26), um das zweite Unterwasserfahrzeug (20) zu veranlassen, zur Energieversorgungsstation (30) zurückzukehren, auf dem Ladestatus der Speicherbatterie (23) basierend.


 
2. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach Anspruch 1, worin das Steuermittel (26) die drahtlose Versorgung von elektrischer Energie stoppt und das zweite Unterwasserfahrzeug (20) veranlasst, zur Energieversorgungsstation (30) zurückzukehren, wenn der Ladestatus der Speicherbatterie (23) kleiner gleich einem Schwellenwert ist.
 
3. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach Anspruch 2, worin das Steuermittel (26) den Schwellenwert wiederholt aktualisiert, auf einer Entfernung des zweiten Unterwasserfahrzeugs (20) von der Energieversorgungsstation (30) basierend.
 
4. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, worin das Energieversorgungsmittel (21) elektrische Energie liefert, die in der Speicherbatterie (23) gespeichert ist.
 
5. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, außerdem ein Positionierungsmittel (40) umfassend zum Positionieren des Energieempfangsmittels (11) und des Energieversorgungsmittels (21), wenn die drahtlose Lieferung von elektrischer Energie ausgeführt wird.
 
6. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach Anspruch 5, worin das Positionierungsmittel (40) ein Saugmittel (41) einschließt zum Aneinanderfügen des ersten Unterwasserfahrzeugs (10) und des zweiten Unterwasserfahrzeugs (20) durch Saugen.
 
7. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach Anspruch 5, worin das Positionierungsmittel (40) ein magnetisches Befestigungsmittel (43) einschließt zum magnetischen Aneinanderfügen des ersten Unterwasserfahrzeugs (10) und des zweiten Unterwasserfahrzeugs (20).
 
8. Drahtloses Energieversorgungsystem (1) nach Anspruch 5, worin das Positionierungsmittel (40) Folgendes einschließt:

einen Marker (46), der im ersten Unterwasserfahrzeug (10) installiert ist; und

ein Marker-Erkennungsmittel (47), das im zweiten Unterwasserfahrzeug (20) installiert ist, um den Marker (46) zu erkennen.


 


Revendications

1. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) comprenant :

un premier véhicule sous-marin (10) qui comporte un moyen de réception d'énergie électrique (11) pour recevoir sans fil de l'énergie électrique ; et

un second véhicule sous-marin (20) qui comporte un moyen d'alimentation en énergie électrique (21) pour alimenter sans fil de l'énergie électrique et pour transmettre de l'énergie électrique entre le moyen de réception d'énergie électrique (11) et le moyen d'alimentation en énergie électrique (21) tandis qu'il se déplace parallèlement au premier véhicule sous-marin (10) ; caractérisé en ce que :

le second véhicule sous-marin (20) est propulsé à l'aide d'une batterie rechargeable (23) ; et

le système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) comprenant en outre :

une station d'alimentation en énergie électrique (30) qui alimente de l'énergie électrique sur la batterie rechargeable (23) ; et

un moyen de commande (26) pour faire en sorte que le second véhicule sous-marin (20) retourne à la station d'alimentation en énergie électrique (30) sur la base d'un état de charge de la batterie rechargeable (23).


 
2. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le moyen de commande (26) arrête l'alimentation sans fil en énergie électrique et fait en sorte que le second véhicule sous-marin (20) retourne à la station d'alimentation en énergie électrique (30) lorsque l'état de charge de la batterie rechargeable (23) est égal ou inférieur à une valeur de seuil.
 
3. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le moyen de commande (26) met à jour de façon répétée la valeur de seuil sur la base d'une distance du second véhicule sous-marin (20) par rapport à la station d'alimentation en énergie électrique (30).
 
4. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel le moyen d'alimentation en énergie électrique (21) alimente de l'énergie électrique qui est stockée dans la batterie rechargeable (23).
 
5. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, comprenant en outre un moyen de positionnement (40) pour positionner le moyen de réception d'énergie électrique (11) et le moyen d'alimentation en énergie électrique (21) lors de la réalisation de l'alimentation sans fil de l'énergie électrique.
 
6. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le moyen de positionnement (40) inclut un moyen d'aspiration (41) pour lier par aspiration le premier véhicule sous-marin (10) et le second véhicule sous-marin (20).
 
7. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le moyen de positionnement (40) inclut un moyen de liaison magnétique (43) pour lier magnétiquement le premier véhicule sous-marin (10) et le second véhicule sous-marin (20).
 
8. Système d'alimentation en énergie électrique sans fil (1) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le moyen de positionnement (40) inclut :

un marqueur (46) qui est installé dans le premier véhicule sous-marin (10) ; et

un moyen de détection de marqueur (47) qui est installé dans le second véhicule sous-marin (20) de manière à ce qu'il détecte le marqueur (46).


 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description