Tesla wants to replace your windscreen wipers with laser beams
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Lasers could replace windscreen wipers in future Teslas as a hi-tech way to clean glass.
The innovative Californian-based electric car maker has lodged a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for laser beams that would clean the windscreen and other glass areas without the need for traditional wipers.
The 14-page application goes into incredible detail of how such laser beam windscreen cleaners would work, describing every component and process and including diagrams of what looks like a Tesla Model S with the system fitted to it.
Titled “pulsed laser cleaning of debris accumulated on glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies” the detailed document was lodged in late November and describes how such “laser-based surface cleaning technologies” would function.
Rather than focusing solely on the windscreen or back window – as traditional windscreen wipers do – the proposed laser system aims to keep all glass areas clean.
Laser emitters housed in the bonnet, front guards and middle of the car would aim pulsed laser beams at debris detected on the glass.
Or, as the patent application explains: “A cleaning system for a vehicle includes a beam optics assembly that emits a laser beam to irradiate a region on a glass article of the vehicle, debris detection circuitry that detects debris accumulated over the region, control circuitry.”
The document details laser exposure levels and pulsing methods to ensure they don’t damage the car or its occupants.
The patent application also suggests laser cleaners could be used to keep camera lenses clean to reduce “erroneous images”, something potentially problematic for driver assistance systems or active safety systems using cameras.
The laser windscreen cleaners could explain why the controversial Tesla Cybertruck didn’t have windscreen wipers, one of many things that fuelled speculation the design of the dual-cab ute would have to change markedly for production.
In its quest to compete with traditional car makers Tesla regularly turns to technology to find different solutions.
It has replaced the car key with Bluetooth phone applications, for example, and was the first car maker to allow software updates at home, rather than having to visit a dealer.
The laser cleaning system is a modern tech-based solution to a feature that hasn’t changed much in more than 100 years.
It’s also not the first time Tesla has flagged its intention to replace traditional wipers; a few months ago it lodged a patent for electromagnetic wipers that used magnetic tracks rather than a motor to slide a blade across the screen.
The latest laser patent also suggests such laser systems could be used to keep photovoltaic solar panels on buildings clean, ensuring they are working more efficiently.