GM has filed a patent application for a heated sunroof roller shade system designed for enhanced in-cabin comfort and greater vehicle efficiency. The system may be particularly beneficial for EVs.
The GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 11,639,089 B2 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and was published on May 2nd, 2023. The patent was originally filed on January 23rd, 2020, and lists several Michigan-based engineers as the inventors, including Taeyoung Han, Kuo-huey Chen, Bahram Khalighi, and Paul E. Krajewski.
The new GM patent filing describes a multi-level sunroof roller shade system that can both heat the cabin and keep it cool. The system incorporates both a radiant heating system and a blocking shade system, both of which are mounted parallel to one another underneath the vehicle roof. The two shades have both a deployed position and a retracted position.
As the patent points out, modern vehicles are often equipped with a sunroof that allows natural light and fresh air into the cabin. However, this opening can often lead to significant heat loss when the vehicle is operated in cold ambient temperatures. In addition, the extra ambient light can heat up the cabin when the vehicle is operated in warmer temperatures.
To address these issues, the patent proposes a system that either warms the cabin through a deployable radiant heat layer, or keeps the cabin cool with a deployable reflective layer. The system described also includes sensors that can detect both ambient temperatures and solar loads, thus configuring the radiant heat and reflective sunroof layers as needed to keep passengers comfortable.
A system like this may prove to be particularly beneficial for electric vehicles. EV range can be dramatically affected by HVAC system loads that drain the onboard battery, and as such, preventing temperature fluctuations via the sunroof is certainly a desirable feature.