Toyota's Smart Solar Tonneau Cover Reacts To The Weather Without You Lifting A Finger
Author: MARTIN PRETORIUS
A tonneau cover can turn a pickup truck's bed into a close approximation of a normal car's trunk, but Toyota believes that it can be far more useful than simply covering the loading area and has developed a new smart tonneau that will think for itself to protect your payload from the elements, improve aerodynamics, and even possibly aid in the charging of a Tundra Hybrid or electric Tacoma. According to a new patent found by CarBuzz at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Toyota is working on a new type of tonneau comprising multiple panels, which the patent claims may or may not be photovoltaic panels - or solar panels. But we'll get to the solar element in a little bit. The most important aspect of the new tonneau is its smart protection functionality that responds to changing weather conditions. This tonneau cover will fold away, either in full or in sections, to expose the load bed or a part thereof as needed and raise or lower individual sections to accommodate irregular load shapes. It will even be able to determine the best angle to position available embedded solar cells for optimum power generation and can pivot to either side along a longitudinal axis to achieve that same goal. A solar tonneau is not a new concept, but one that can optimize its angle in relation to the sun is certainly novel. As is the case with many modern advancements, this concept of a tonneau cover relies on an array of sensors and external data inputs. And, to ensure that it can adapt to as wide a range of different conditions as possible, the cover will consist of separate sections with their own actuators.