Figure 4 is block diagram illustrative of an example SMA-actuator implementing a rack and pinion implementation in accordance with aspects of the present disclosure. Tesla patent
Tesla published the patent, “Managing shape memory alloy actuators,” which describes the use of a shape memory alloy in a vehicle to facilitate access to various of its parts without human manipulation.
Tesla explains that vehicles can be equipped with various sensors and components to make things easier. For example, there may be various actuators or controls that can be used to access compartments within a vehicle or change the state of a component. It is a known fact that a vehicle may include compartments that are designed for storage, and which are accessible via a lid or cover. The lid or cover may be associated with physical, mechanical control, which requires human manipulation to allow access to the compartment. However, this is not always convenient, so in order to gain access to such places, Tesla wants to use an actuator that can be controlled in such a way as to provide access to the department without the need for human manipulation.
On February 24, 2022, Tesla filed a patent for “Managing shape memory alloy actuators” and published it on September 1, 2022. It describes how to configure and control shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators. The patent describes the use of SMA actuators to allow opening of compartments or other elements in a vehicle (glove box, a central or center console included in a vehicle, a door release associated with a door of a vehicle, and so on).
Tesla writes that SMA is an alloy that can deform within a first temperature range, but can return to its pre-deformed shape when heated to a second temperature range. The SMA can be used as part of an actuator, whereby it allows the activation or actuation of the actuator. For example, the SMA can be heated by using a current (eg, Joule heating) to cause the SMA to return to its pre-deformed shape. That is, the position, orientation, and shape of the SMA can be controlled in this way through the heating and cooling sequences.
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