Ford Patents Extendable Solar Panel Cocoon for EV Charging

The next Mach E may come with curtains that capture the power of the sun, if Ford’s latest paten application is anything to go by.

The idea is as simple to conceive of as it sounds like it will be complicated to manufacture. Essentially, when you’re parked, you can unfurl curtains with flexible solar panels in them to charge an electric vehicle.

Although cars these days are massive, the application complains that there isn’t actually all that much real estate for solar panels. If you think of a solar car, you’re probably picturing a wing covered in solar panels with a tiny bubble in the middle. And fair enough, they’re trying to make their tops as broad as possible to capture as much sunlight as possible and they’re still pretty limited.

So, rather than try to generate a little bit of power all the time, the car would instead unfurl curtains to try and generate more power when it’s parked.

It would be a nice alternative to simply waiting around if, say, all of the charging spots are already taken by Tesla owners quaffing espressos at the nearest cafe or whatever.

It would also be a nice feature to have in a pinch. It likely wouldn’t be as fast as a charging station, but if you misjudged your drive home and ran out of power (during the day), you still wouldn’t have to wait for a tow truck to get you back to a power station. Kind of like a solar jerry can.

Ford wants the solar awnings to be power actuated, so you just have to press a button to furl and unfurl them. The application also details how it could inflate hollow spars to create a cocoon kind of like, it sounds, an emergency life raft with solar panels—a thought we are extremely into—but the system could also be made of fabric to look more like a tarpaulin.

And thought reminds us of another recent patent application that ford submitted. The invention was for a privacy curtain/sun shade that could be pulled out of a tailgate. 

While the two inventions aren’t identical, sun shade portion does make us think that this solar curtain could also be used as a solar pergola to provide you with a shaded place to sit while simultaneously charging the vehicle. 

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