The US Patent Office (USPTO) on Tuesday granted Tesla a bit of an unusual patent, allowing them to potentially use laser beams to clean debris off a windshield.
Titled “Pulsed laser cleaning of debris accumulated on glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies”, the patent application was first filed in early 2019. At the time all of Tesla’s vehicles, both available for purchase and those waiting to be built, included traditional wipers.
It wasn’t until later that year that Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck, which did not feature a wiper of any kind. While it was still a prototype, many believed Tesla could possibly implement the laser beam idea in the electric truck.
With the approval of the patent this week, and the announcement last week that Cybertruck production won’t begin until late 2022, it is possible that it could become a reality.
However, as with many patents it is also possible that the laser wipers may never make it into a production vehicle.
Tesla describes how the system works in the patent as follows: (via Electrek)
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. The control circuitry calibrates a set of parameters associated with the laser beam emitted from the beam optics assembly based on detection of the debris accumulated over the region on the glass article, controls an exposure level of the laser beam on the debris accumulated based on calibration of the set of parameters associated with the laser beam, wherein the exposure level is controlled based on pulsing the laser beam at a calibrated rate that limits penetration of the laser beam to a depth that is less than a thickness of the glass article, and removes the debris accumulated over the region on the glass article using the laser beam.
This isn’t the only idea to come out of Tesla that sounds like it is something out of a science fiction novel. Elon Musk has already confirmed plans for a SpaceX package for the delayed next-generation Roadster.
The optional package would include cold-gas thrusters that reduces the 0-60mph time to just 1.1 seconds, and also allow the car to hover momentarily.
You can read the full patent below.