By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Swarthmore College and Borough Police have teamed up for a pilot program testing the practicality of outfitting police cars with solar panels.

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Mayor Rick Lowe came up with the idea as way to save money on gas by cutting down on engine idling.

“The problem with a police car is it has so much electronic equipment in there that you can’t just turn off the car and still run all the equipment,” Lowe said.

So the mayor turned to Swarthmore College, and engineering professor Carr Everbach, who worked with a student on the project over the summer. They designed solar panels to fit flush on the roof and trunk of one of the department’s cruisers.

(credit: Swarthmore Police Department)

(credit: Swarthmore Police Department)”We obviously had to make it so that when the car went fast, these wouldn’t go flying. And somehow they were able to work that out,” Everbach said.

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With the panels in place, powering a separate battery, Everbach and students will collect data on how well the system’s working.

“In a few months, we’re gonna have a lot of data on that,” Everback said.

Lowe sees the project as a boost for all involved.

“It’s exciting because the college stepped up, devoted its resources to help out in a way that everybody wins,” Lowe said.

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