Skip to main content

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.

Editors' Recommendations

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)…
Elon Musk suggests Autopilot was off in fatal Texas Tesla crash
elon musk stylized image

Tesla chief Elon Musk has said that the automaker’s early investigations suggest the Model S in the fatal accident in Texas at the weekend didn’t have Autopilot enabled.

Saturday's crash in Spring, just north of Houston, killed two men aged 59 and 69 when the vehicle hit a tree and burst into flames. Police at the scene said one person was found in the front passenger seat while the other was in a rear seat, indicating that the car may have been in Autopilot or Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode when the accident occurred. The other possibility is that the driver was thrown from the driver’s seat, or moved out of it, around the time of the impact.

Read more
Tesla’s nearly built Berlin Gigafactory shown off in snowy drone video
Tesla Gigafactory

Tesla chief Elon Musk has tweeted a drone video showing the nearly finished Giga Berlin factory, the electric car company’s first such facility in Europe.

The video (below), shot recently in snowy conditions, reveals the huge scale of the plant on the 92-hectare site. In another tweet, Musk said that the factory's large footprint may give it a "flat" appearance in the aerial footage, but in reality, the building is up to five stories high in places.

Read more
How to buy a Tesla online
Tesla Roadster front view

Tesla has sold cars online since its inception. Early on in the company's history, adopting a digital sales model was a way to avoid setting up a network of third-party dealers. Fast forward to 2020, and it's turned into an excellent way to put new cars in the hands of customers while limiting in-person contact. Here's how it works.
Find the model and version that suits you

To start, visit the company's official website and select the model you're interested in. Tesla currently sells six cars: The Model S, the Model X, the Model 3, the Model Y, the Roadster, and the Cybertruck. Only the first four are in production, but each one is offered in several configurations. For example, the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 is available in one configuration called Standard Range Plus, while buyers who need all-wheel drive can select the Long Range or Performance version.

Read more