Say what you want about Tesla, but they have some absolutely insane ideas. Back in 2019, Tesla filed a patent for laser beam window cleaners, and it just got approved this week.
The full name of the patent is “Pulsed Laser Cleaning of Debris Accumulated on Glass Articles in Vehicles and Photovoltaic Assemblies”, suggesting its usage for solar panels as well. This makes sense as dirt accumulation is a big problem when it comes to solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. The system would have sensors detect when dirt has built up and would pulse a laser until the dirt burns off.
Using pulse lasers would help to minimise damage to any other subjects, as it decreases the intensity of the laser. The patent says the pulse “limits penetration of the laser beam to a depth that is less than a thickness of the glass article”, so the driver would have nothing to worry about. Still, if these lasers are powerful enough to burn dirt, then we hope that they are properly calibrated. This could be a concern, as Tesla is not exactly known for their perfect build quality and reliability.
Replacing the current and accepted design for windshield wipers is a nice idea, but some have called their bluff, saying the idea is simply too unreachable right now. Critics have called it a ‘speculative patent’, which is a patent that seeks to profit from future implementations of the idea without providing any practical solutions. We have yet to see a practical demonstration of the laser wipers.
Since the Cybertruck hasn’t been seen with any wipers, the laser beams could be the method they go with in the final design. However, Tesla did file for another patent that would be a lot more practical: electromagnetic wipers.
Tesla seems to be quite dissatisfied with the conventional wiper design. In the electromagnetic wiper patent, they say “Conventional windshield wiper systems that use multiple wiper blades usually have a cluttered design and do not sufficiently clear the windshield, which may hamper the unobstructed field-of-view of the path ahead.”
Their proposed design would only use one wiper blade moving side to side, powered a linear actuator. Apparently, this would be more energy-effective and would minimise friction.
Other Tesla patents have been filed, such as the idea to use lasers to bend glass structures, but we have to wait and see if Tesla actually turns any of these ideas into reality.