The new Tesla Model S: 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, 265 miles on a charge, and a 50% charge in 20 minutes. With that performance, major car manufacturers of course, want to get their hands on the technology and now that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc. has obliged by giving their patent away, we should see some of the Tesla innovations in more electric cars.
But the interesting part of Tesla’s giveaway is that ALL the patent are being open-sourced; not just ones that they are currently being implemented, but also those that haven’t been publicly released yet. Tesla currently has about 300 U.S. patent and about 400 International patents under their control, and many more are still in the application phase.
Most of the Tesla patents are related to battery charging technologies; as one might expect, as they are the innovations that have catapulted Tesla as the leader in electric cars. Good portions of their patents are for ornamental designs, such as the shape of the hood ornament or door panels. However, many other patents never made it into their vehicles; perhaps some of these great ideas are just not practical in their current car line-up, maybe there are economics or business reasons that they have been left aside, or maybe some of these inventions will be released in future models. One thing is certain, with almost 700 patents in the Tesla portfolio, not every patent will be used, leaving some interesting items for other companies to make use of. Here are a few interesting ones.
- First we have the Vehicle battery pack ballistic shield. That just sounds cool. In electric vehicles, the batteries are fragile and can be easily damaged if the car is involved in a collision. The batteries are placed in rear. During a rear impact, the ballistic shield collapses in a way that transfers impact energy away from the battery pack so it doesn’t get damaged.
- Next up we have the Dynamic antiwhiplash apparatus. It’s a passenger seat protection system made up of a compartment of pressurized gas in the seat back and headrest, which expands to lower the force of a rear impact. It’s a kind of in the seat rear airbag. They also have a headrest airbag.
- Also, there is a new and improved version of a gullwing door. Most gull wing doors, like the ones on Doc Emmet Brown’s time machine (If someone could only invent a flux capacitor) requires the open door to protrude fairly high above the car roof. Tesla’s is a bi-fold gull wing door, which stores in a compact folded position above the vehicle body.
- Finally we have a Wind Powered Generator, which can charge the Electric batteries while the car is moving.
Whether releasing their patents this will have a detrimental or positive affect on the company remains to be seen. But the idea is less about profit and more about saving the environment: “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis . . . We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”
There are many other excellent inventions in the Tesla line. Take a look for yourself. Here is a link to view Tesla’s U.S. utility patents. My hope is that Elon Musk continues this trend, making those patents from SpaceX available as well. I would be particularly excited to see patents related to his 3D immersive engineering environment become public. If you haven’t seen it in action, watch Tony Stark, I mean Elon Musk demonstrate it below.