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Tesla proposes dirt-busting lasers to clean grime off windshields

With the design of Tesla’s recently unveiled Cybertruck pointed very much toward the future, it’s possible that Tesla’s latest patent was dreamed up with this very vehicle in mind.

Published recently by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the document suggests using dirt-busting lasers to keep car windows clean. You heard that right — laser beams to clean windows.

The patent describes how the system would use small cameras located around the vehicle to detect dirt and grime on the windshield, as well as the side and back windows. When the system’s software determines that it’s time for a clean, laser-beam technology built into the vehicle would automatically irradiate the relevant areas to destroy the muck.

Notably, the technology would regulate the power of the beam to avoid damaging the glass, or, more importantly, the occupants inside. In other words, a light covering of dust would require a gentle application of the laser to ensure an effective clean, whereas a blob of rather more stubborn pigeon poop would require a far more severe and prolonged blast of the beam.

“The cleaning apparatus provides a fast, robust, and chemical-free solution” to get the job done, the patent says.

Tesla’s document includes several diagrams, one of which shows the lasers positioned on a vehicle’s hood, fender, and B-pillars.

The patent’s author suggests that the proposed technology could also be used to clean solar panels — another business that Tesla is targeting. Grime on a solar panel can affect its efficiency, so an automatic cleaning process such as the one described in the patent would enable the panels to always function at their full capacity.

The document notes that while different automated solutions already exist for cleaning windshields and solar panels, preparations for cleaning the glass and waiting for it to dry can take up valuable time. So why not fire lasers at the dirt instead?

Another recently published patent from Tesla described a liquid-filled heated and cooled seat for its cars.

We should point out that automakers file lots of patents for all kinds of ideas, many of which never make it off the drawing board. In this case, we’ll just have to wait and see if Tesla has the technology and desire to make its gunk-busting laser idea a reality.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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