Cybertruck patent applications show off UI, solar bed cover, ‘armor glass’

New patent applications submitted by Tesla in 2020 but published Thursday have revealed a bit more information about the Cybertruck, which is currently slated to start shipping at the very end of this year or in early 2022. One includes (in rather grainy detail) a bunch of screenshots of the new UI Tesla has been working on. Another details how the company plans to integrate solar panel tech onto the retracting tonneau cover for the truck bed — something CEO Elon Musk said might be an option. And there even appears to be an application for what could be Tesla’s so-called “armor glass,” which memorably failed during an onstage demo in 2019.

We’ve seen glimpses of Tesla’s new user interface before, at the Cybertruck reveal event and when the company’s head of UI left earlier this year. But the patent application (PDF) — which has to do with how the UI will change in different situations — shows off how Tesla may ultimately display some features specific to the Cybertruck. For instance, one screen shows what the Cybertruck’s screen may look like when you’re trying to hook up a trailer to the tow hitch. A more off-road focused screen shows the truck’s real-time pitch and roll. A new “Today” screen shows a split-window view of a calendar, a “news” section, and other UI elements.

The solar tonneau cover patent application (PDF), meanwhile, offers a helpful side view of exactly how Tesla plans to roll the thing up when the bed is open, as well as how the sections will connect.

The most curious one may be the “durable glass for vehicle” patent application (PDF), though. While Tesla filed it on the same day as these other Cybertruck patent applications, it doesn’t explicitly mention the truck, and instead includes an image of a more generic Tesla vehicle. That said, one of the inventors is engineer Rosie Mottsmith, who originally helped develop the “armor glass” for Tesla’s Semi truck.

The application describes something that sounds similar to Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Tesla describes a glass comprised of three layers — an outer one, an inner one, and an adhesive interlayer. The external layer is 2mm to 5mm thick and made of borosilicate. The internal layer is 0.5mm to 1.1mm thick and is made of aluminosilicate. Corning uses both materials.

Tesla says the goal is to give the resulting glass sandwich “at most a 10% chance of failure with an impact of 2 J.” In a PDF describing an older spec of Gorilla Glass, Corning rates a 1.5mm thick piece failing at an impact of about 3.5 J. It achieved that by dropping a half-kilo steel ball. Now where have I heard that before

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