What Does Teslas’ Patent Portfolio Mean for the Road?

It’s no secret that different countries have different requirements when it comes to transport. However, practicality doesn’t always gel with public perception, which is influenced by factors as diverse as culture and fashion. Worldwide, there has been a greater surge in the number of larger vehicles. The trends disregard norms such as road capacity, distance and fuel efficiency.

US electric car manufacturer Tesla has been working on addressing the latter. (Note that while Tesla is not the only car company to manufacture electric vehicles, it is the one most well-known for the technology today.) Tesla currently offers for models of sedans, but has reported plans to expand its’ range to semitrucks, pickup trucks, ATVs and supercars. The most buzzworthy of these right now is the Tesla Cybertruck, a prototype of which was unveiled in 2019. Reactions to it have been mixed and mostly focused on the vehicles’ appearance and viability. As time passes, though, we are witnessing more and more interesting patents from Tesla, all of which have been associated with the much-anticipated Cybertruck.

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One of these inventions is the Interlocking BIPV Roof Rile with Backer that allows for the truck to have solar panel arrays on the back. These arrays will look like roofing tiles with photovoltaic cells. The patent doesn’t specify a car- that embodiment is interpolated. It focuses more on the ability of the proposed patent to replace or compliment current roofing tiles, with an emphasis on the visual appearance. A related patent, which is still at the application stage, is the System and Method for Improving Color Appearance of Solar Roofs. This allows for an optional paint layer, allowing the photovoltaic roof tile to match most painted surfaces. A third related patent, Sidelap Interconnect for Photovoltaic Roofing Modules allows for optimization on the arrangement of these roof tiles. The combination of all of these patents hints at considerable research being done on the topic, and it’s possible we will see more related patents in the near future.

Another invention, granted in May 2021, hints at further improvements in autonomous driving controllers. One of the concerns surrounding automated driving is the possibility of hacking and aggressors causing deliberate damage to the vehicles and occupants via remote control. The Autonomous Driving Controller Encrypted Communications patent allows for encrypted communications between relevant equipment. Tesla is also focusing on increasing the battery life of its’ vehicles, with a more efficient battery pack. The Integrated Energy Storage System posits both cost reduction and increased range in its’ products. The battery is also being developed to serve additional functions such as safety.

All in all, it is heartening to see developments of this scale and speed in the electric vehicle industry, especially given the global threats caused by climate change and the contribution of the oil and fuel industry to the problem. Of course, one of the primary issues with emerging products is the cost- it takes some time for new technologies to become financially feasible. Or, as in this case, available at affordable costs to the public. Here’s hoping the all of these intriguing technologies will become viable to the common public in the near future, because we are badly in need of renewable energy for our transportation.

Author: Varsha Valsaraj, Legal Associate at PA Legal.

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