Toyota patent reveals 'cloaking device' for cars

Did Toyota hire any aliens recently?

Strong evidence supporting that ridiculous notion comes in the form of a patent application the automaker has filed for a ‘cloaking device’ -- the term a tip of the hat to a technology featured in ‘Star Trek’ on Romulan and Klingon starships.

Although it’s not intended to make an entire car disappear, the patent describes a system that would render the roof pillars of a car virtually invisible, providing an unobstructed 360-degree view for the driver.

The idea is to wrap a pillar in a series of mirrored and opaque surfaces that directs the light around it, resolving with a clear image that the occupants of the vehicle can see.

Other outfits have suggested electronic means to a similar end. Most notably Jaguar Land Rover, which envisions installing cameras on the outside of the pillar to feed an image to a display embedded on the inside.

Toyota’s idea is much simpler and presumably cheaper than that, or the use of futuristic meta-materials to channel light around obstructions, which has also been proposed.

As with many patent applications, however, there’s no telling if this idea will ever make it into production.

However, with all of the research aimed at developing see-through roof pillars, it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll see a car with some version of them on day.

Maybe even before the 23rd century.