When studying Tesla's huge patent portfolio, we need to pay attention not only to this futuristic technology that has come to the fore, but also to its built-in Valet function (eliminating the trouble of finding parking spaces in the parking lot), or its impressive acceleration function in the latest redesign, And a lot of innovations that help Tesla maintain its position as the world's leading electric vehicle manufacturer.
Tesla remains a model of innovation to grab the headlines. The company began to deliver a fully redesigned luxury model s sedan in June. The model s playd, the best performance model, can accelerate the speed from zero to 96 kilometers per hour in 1.99 seconds. Tesla says it is the fastest among consumer cars.
But the difference between Tesla and its competitors is that this less eye-catching technology has little to do with driving ability, at least on the surface. In addition to artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, the company has also increased the development of security functions in recent years.
According to an application and disclosure study conducted by intelligent property landscape, a Tokyo analysis company, Tesla has accumulated more than 580 patents from its establishment in 2003 to March 2021. Among them, most patents (281) can be classified as electric machinery, followed by 168 transportation related patents. This category includes user operation, especially the number of patents related to user experience is rising.
In 2018, Tesla applied for a patent for a steering system that will allow the car to operate through the touch screen. The vehicle can be controlled by sliding or clicking gestures on the flat interface, and the user can receive tactile feedback as if he had pressed a real button.
Tesla applied for a patent for the "smart call" function in 2019. This innovation allows users to switch the car to automatic driving mode, which can be retrieved or parked even when people are outside the car.
The third important Tesla patent portfolio is 71, which can be classified as semiconductor, including solar cells. In 2016, Tesla acquired solar start-up SolarCity. In 2017, Tesla changed its name from Tesla Motors to Tesla Motors. Since then, Tesla has expanded from an electric vehicle manufacturer to an energy company focusing on batteries. The company has patents for moisture-proof solar cells and solar panels that look like ordinary roof tiles.
In May this year, Tesla disclosed a patent application for a retractable solar truck bedspread, which was submitted in 2020. The industry has speculated that this retractable bedspread will be introduced into the electric pickup truck cybertruck, and the development of this car will be disclosed in 2019.
Computer technology is the fourth largest category in Tesla's patent portfolio, with up to 60 items. Before 2017, Tesla applied for less than 10 patents in this category every year. The company then applied for 18 patents in 2018 and 17 patents in 2019. The annual growth rate exceeds the category of transportation. Many of these patents are related to automatic driving machine learning. These patent applications include systems that handle AI errors and technologies that encrypt autopilot data. This shows that Tesla has invested a lot of resources in safety and security functions.
Tesla has always been recruiting well-known engineers, who have become famous among apple and major chip manufacturers. The new employees helped the company start the development of automatic driving chip.
In 2019, Tesla announced that it had developed its own processing unit internally, called "fully automatic driving" (FSD). FSD has better performance than the GPU purchased by the carmaker from NVIDIA. Since that spring, all Tesla cars delivered have been equipped with FSD. FSD can calculate 144 trillion operations in one second, Tesla said, which will make full automatic driving possible. In 2019, Tesla acquired the American start-up deepscale, which developed environmental recognition technology for driverless vehicles.
Autonomous driving developers, such as waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company alphabet, usually use lidar sensors to identify obstacles. But Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, argued that lidar is a method of sending laser pulses to determine the existence, shape and distance of objects. It is usually very detailed, but expensive. Instead, Tesla is developing a pure vision technology that uses cameras and machine learning to measure the distance to obstacles. The company has increased patents through this effort.
The integration of vehicle software and hardware has always been Musk's cornerstone strategy. Tesla Motors regularly upgrades through "air update". Even fully automatic driving can be realized through software update.
In Tesla's portfolio, there are 29 patents related to thermal processing and instruments, ranking eighth in number. Although the number seems small, the content shows Tesla's strength in maintaining a competitive advantage. Executives of intelligent property landscape, a Tokyo analysis company, said that thermal control "is the key technology to extend the cruise distance of electric vehicles". The heat generated by the battery greatly affects the performance of electric vehicles. If high temperatures accumulate, safety may also be affected. Tesla gets power from a series of small cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, which means that controlling heat is crucial.
Intellectual property landscape has ranked the thermal control patent data of different companies according to the number of citations and versatility, and Tesla's thermal management system patent with coolant circuit stands out. Tesla's power comes from its eight way valve, a component that redistributes the heat released by the battery to other parts of the vehicle, including the air conditioning system. The eight way valve was first installed on the model y launched last year.
Cars usually regulate heat part by part, but Tesla's goal is to optimize the heat regulation of the whole vehicle. The coolant circuit patent forms the basis of heat regulation. "We can assess from patents that Tesla is making steady efforts in manufacturing," said an analyst at intelligent property landscape
Among Tesla's patent applications, the most popular inventor is Franz von holzhausen. He is the chief designer of the company and worked in Mazda for some time in the first decade of the 21st century. He has contributed about 80 design patents, almost twice as many as the second-largest inventor. Holtzhausen participated in the development of the model s dashboard screen and the model x upward swinging Falcon wing door.
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