The world’s weirdest car patents - from onboard toilets to stick bonnets

Friday, 27th March 2020, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 3:30 pm

The car industry is a hotbed of innovation, with teams of development engineers and scientists constantly coming up with new technology and techniques to improve drivers’ lives.

The last 100 years or so have seen cars go from basic wheeled wagons with an engine to luxury chariots with their own internet connections, TVs and arrays of sensors that lead some manufacturers to claim they can almost drive themselves.

While many of the ideas make the leap from R&D to road, there are some that never make it past the drawing board. But that doesn’t mean car makers aren’t keen to protect their ideas, no matter how outlandish, so many register patents for ideas that never become reality.

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With help from Vanrama, we’ve taken a look at some of the wildest patents never to become reality, including Tesla’s laser windscreen wipers, a Ford with deployable onboard motorbike and a shape-morphing Toyota.

Teargas dispenser, EV turbine and telescopic tail

The first of several ideas from Toyota, is a device that can make the air smell nice for those outside, or leave them gasping for breath by dispersing tear gas. It also proposed a telescopic tail that deploys and retracts to aid a car's aerodynamics. Also yet to make it to market, but not from Toyota, is a roof-mounted turbine to help charge EVs on the move.

Shopping conveyor belt and deployable motorbike

Both ideas from Ford, which wanted to install a cargo area conveyor belt to move items in a car or van's cargo area, and also suggested storing a tiny motorbike within the body of a car to allow a "mutlimodal transport solution".

Sticky bonnet, laser windscreen wipers and an asymmetric car

Tesla wants to use a pulsed laser system to keep windscreens clear rather the traditional wipers, while Google's Waymo has suggested that an adhesive bonnet that "catches" pedestrians could improve safety. The asymmetric car idea isn't from an established brand but is designed to give users more choice over the look and function of their car.

In-car coffee machine and toilet

Thankfully not one device but two inventions that seem designed to save drivers having to stop. The in-car coffee maker can brew and dispense a fresh cuppa, while the horrendous-sounding toilet with urine reservoir can handle the byproduct after without the need to stop.

Airborne car wash and a car that can fly

BMW's suggestion of a drone car wash intended to use unmanned robots to clean cars from above, while Toyota took its body-morphing car another step further with a suggestion for a vehicle that can change shape from road-going car to aerodynamic flying machine.