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Sunflower canopy range extender

Folding Solar Panels for Plug-in Hybrids or EVs
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July drives her car to work on a scorching Tucson morning and finds the most unshaded spot in the parking lot.

After she locks her car and presses the yellow button on her remote, a couple of things happen:

1) A radar-like apparatus on the roof of the car scans the entire parking lots for maximum usable area and more devices like itself in order to avoid them.

2) The top of the roof opens, revealing an array of folded solar panels mounted on a telescoping stem, which is raised well above the height of the highest vehicle in the parking lot (without unbalancing the vehicle)

3) The panels unfold (like a flower, hence the name), covering the maximum amount of area without hitting anything, and providing shade to neighboring vehicles.

Each "petal" is made of small, rectangular solar panels which can unhinge to lower wind resitance and orient themselves for maximum light exposure

4) The system keeps scanning the area for hazards, and partially unfolds to respond to them (excessive winds, larger vehicle approaching, etc)

At the end of the day, July finds her car's battery topped off, interior kept cool (and possibly air conditioned), and her parking lot neighbors grateful for the shade provided.

cowtamer, Feb 10 2011

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       I like the image of a large car park full of cars all displaying beautiful geometric flower shapes, gently swaying in the breeze.
hippo, Feb 10 2011
  

       Yes, nice thought - since most cars spend most of their time parked, it makes sense to use that time as productively as possible.   

       I don't know about the one-car providing shade per parking-lot model though, and can imagine instead the whole thing catching on, leaving cars competing with one another, trying to reach upwards ever further, trying to capture as much sunlight as possible, and not getting left in the shade, with diverse eco-niches developing at different levels of the canopy.
zen_tom, Feb 10 2011
  

       Ideally, the flower-shaped solar panel arrays on the tops of cars would also be recharging stations for giant robot dragonflies which, as they suck up the valuable electricity, would download free mp3s into the car's stereo system.
hippo, Feb 10 2011
  

       How could I have forgotten the mp3 pollinating robot dragonflies!!!? Awesome addition...
cowtamer, Feb 10 2011
  
      
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