Tesla files patent for laser windshield wipers

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Tesla’s recent unveiling of its Cybertruck has certainly grabbed headlines around the world. However, was it all a boxy, window-breaking smokescreen for a diabolical scheme to corner the laser windshield wiper market? Maybe. All jokes aside, Tesla now has a patent for lasers that clean the crud off your car, Electrek reports. 

Elon Musk’s company filed the patent earlier in 2019. It has now gone public. The patent refers to the tech as “Pulsed Laser Cleaning of Debris Accumulated on Glass Articles in Vehicles and Photovoltaic Assemblies.”

Cleaning with Lasers

Tesla’s staff scientific and industrial imaging specialist Phiroze Dalal owns the inventor credits for the new tech. He describes the device in the patent as “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, and control circuitry.”

Dalal’s language is a little technical. It appears that the patent describes lasers mounted where normal windshield wipers would reside. These can detect debris on the windshield and can also clean it off. However, they could also be featured somewhere else. Such laser wipers could presumably clean any glass surfacelike a window, camera lens or solar panel.

Interestingly enough, Tesla also hopes to use the technology to clean the solar panels atop its electric vehicles. Being able to detect when solar panels are gunked up would prove very useful. Moreover, having the ability to clean panels on the roof of a home without ever needing to venture up to them would be twice as helpful.

This, as Futurism points out, might be a better application for the lasers than installing them in an area that drivers have to look through. They banned those little laser pointers in school for a reason.

Pushing the Boundaries

Of course, anyone who follows Tesla knows that Musk and his company like to push boundaries with cool but sometimes questionable technology. For one, there’s the new Cybertruck. Strangely enough, the electric pickup truck is turning out to be a great idea considering that Cybertruck has already received 200,000 orders. Still, there is also the crazy things that people have tried to do with Tesla’s ironically named Smart Summon feature.

Recently, Tesla owners tested the technology in a number of ways. Some of them were not so smart. People even tried to run themselves over with the feature. As such, it’s impossible to imagine what Tesla owners will do once they get their hands on laser controls.

However, as Electreck pointed out, just because there’s a patent doesn’t mean the technology will appear on cars anytime soon. That’s probably for the best. What could possibly go wrong with arming autonomous vehicles with lasers?