Tesla’s idea for a windshield wiper that would remove debris from the driver’s line of sight using a laser has been officially released by the US Patent Office.
Tesla filed the patent in May 2019, and it was finally granted in late 2021. Now the US Patent Office has released the patent, making it publicly viewable.
Tesla has long been interested in some pretty crazy and revolutionary ideas for cars. Over the past few years, Tesla has experimented with several different designs and ideas for windshield wipers.
With all the crazy ideas Tesla has thrown around for windshield wipers, the patent for the “Pulsed laser cleaning of accumulated debris on glass items in vehicles and photovoltaic panelsfrom the automaker is among the most interesting. Originally filed in May 2019, Tesla had the idea published by the US Patent Office, which means that if the Office ultimately does not grant the patent, the public can still learn from the work and perhaps be developing another system that could be tuned.
Tesla describes the patent in the now published presentation:
A cleaning system for a vehicle includes an optical assembly that emits a laser beam to irradiate a region in a vehicle window region, a debris detection circuit that detects accumulated debris in the region, and a control circuit. The control circuit calibrates a set of parameters associated with the laser beam emitted by the optical assembly, based on the detection of accumulated debris on the region of the glass article, controls an exposure level of the laser beam on the debris accumulated based on the calibration of all the parameters associated with the laser beam, where the level of exposure is controlled according to the pulsation of the laser beam at a calibrated speed which limits the penetration of the laser beam to a depth less than the thickness of the glassware and removes accumulated debris from the area of the glassware using the laser beam.
It’s not necessarily confirmed or known what plans Tesla might have for laser wipers, but the patent illustrations appear to show a Model S body. Tesla may be willing to test such devices on some of its vehicles so continues internally, but the automaker has never detailed any specific plans for the idea.
In five steps, the patent describes the use of the laser cleaning assembly:
- Detect residue accumulated in a region of the glass article installed in the vehicle.
- Calibrate a set of parameters associated with the laser beam emitted from the beam optics assembly, based on the detection of accumulated debris in a region of the glassware.
- Control the level of exposure of the laser beam on the detected residues accumulated in the glass article, according to the calibration of all the parameters associated with the laser beam.
- Irradiate the region associated with the detected residues on the glassware with a laser beam.
- Remove detected debris accumulated in the area using a laser beam.
It also does not appear to be operated by the vehicle itself. Tesla describes the possibility of a manual system in which the driver could control the laser with a touch screen, joystick or other means to communicate with the various operating components of the cleaning device.
Although it seems like a far-fetched idea, it wouldn’t be too far removed from Tesla’s ideas to use a laser to clean a windshield.