Anthony Ratkov lives in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He works in Detroit's automobile industry.
The picture above shows what a solar-powered car in the future would look like. It looks like any other car, except that you don't see solar panels all over it. That's because the solar panels are carried inside the car. You're probably thinking, 'How can the solar panels get any sun, if they are inside the car, where the sun can't shine on them?' The solar panels would be stored inside the car, when you are driving, but when you park the car, a robot removes the panels from the car. This means that your solar-powered car will also contain a robot.
The picture above shows the solar-powered car with its hood opened. Under the hood, you can see the robot is folded up, and you can also see a set of solar recharging modules.
The picture above is a cut-away view of one of the solar recharging modules. Each solar recharging unit has an array of photovoltaic solar cells on the outside. For converting solar power into electricity, each unit also has several batteries inside. When the unit is exposed to sunlight, the electricity that is produced by the solar cells is stored in these batteries. The unit also has a handle, which is used by the robot to pick it up.
The illustration above shows the robot picking up one of the solar recharging units and putting it in the ground, near the car. When the car is parked, the hood of the car is opened, and each one of the solar recharging units will be removed from the car and set on the ground near the car.
The illustration above shows the car's robot putting more solar units on the ground. The robot would have a built-in machine vision system, so it can determine the angle of the sun. This is important for placing the solar panels, to make sure that they are placed on the sunny side, rather than the shady side, of the car.
The illustration above shows several of the solar recharging units after they have been placed on the ground, around the car. After all of the solar units have been placed on the ground, the hood of the car automatically closes. The solar recharging units will remain on the ground for several hours with the sun shining on them. While the sun shines, the electricity produced by their solar cells is stored inside the unit's batteries. When they are fully recharged, the car's hood opens, the robot reaches out, picks up the solar recharging units, and puts them back into the car. When they are returned to the car they are automatically plugged into the car's electrical system so they can provide electricity to the car's motor.
The usual way of recharging an electric car like this is to park it in your backyard. There, the robot could place the solar units on the ground in your backyard. This option could work for people who have really big backyards, but for people with small yards, there is another alternative. The robot can reach upwards and place the solar recharging units on the roof of your house. You would simply park the car next to your house, and the robot would do the rest: it would automatically put solar recharging units on the roof of your house. After their batteries are recharged, the robot would reach up, remove the units from your roof, and put them back into your car.
The picture above shows the robot reaching up to put solar recharging units on top of a house.
Above, another illustration of the car's robot placing solar panels on the roof of a house. In this illustration, some of the solar units have been placed on the ground near the car, and several more are being placed on the roof.
Every solar-powered car I've ever seen has had solar cells on the roof, as well as on the hood. You might be able to fit about 10 square feet of solar cells on the hood of a car, and maybe 15 square feet of solar cells on the roof of the car, which is a total of 25 square feet. However, that's not going to be adequate to meet the car's needs for energy. If you can pack several square feet of solar cells inside the car, and have a robot place them on the ground, you could probably double or triple the car's energy-producing capacity. The illustration above shows a car with eight solar recharging units under its hood, and six more units in its trunk, for a total of 14 recharging units.
The picture above shows the electric car with all 14 of its recharging units on the ground, after the car's robot has removed them and laid them on the ground.
In the illustration above, another recharging option is shown. In this illustration, all 14 of the recharging units have been placed on top of a house by the car's robot.
Note About the Illustrations
I created all of the computer graphic illustrations for this article.
© 2016 Anthony Ratkov