Toyota Patents Solar Panel Route Optimization System

Toyota Motor Corp. has received a U.S. patent for a system for cars equipped with solar panels that estimates their sunlight exposure over various travel routes.

Using advanced mapping and real-time navigation and weather information, Toyota’s system takes into account the estimated driving time, road configurations, cloud coverage, time of day, shading from trees and buildings, and the angle of solar panels with respect to sunlight. Calculations also could be tailored to vehicles equipped with adjustable solar panels and/or reflecting mirrors.

Toyota’s Prius PHV/Prime plug-in hybrid sedan is fitted with a photovoltaic solar roof array in some markets. Supplied by Panasonic Corp., the system can be used to partially recharge the car’s 8.8-kWH battery pack and help power the air conditioning system, lights and other accessories.