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Tesla wants to use laser beams to automatically clean debris off cars – Yes really

Tesla has been working on a technology consisting of laser beams installed on vehicles, and other products, to automatically clean debris off the windshield of its cars. No, I am not kidding.

If you thought that Tesla’s Cybertruck was futuristic, wait until you hear about this new technology that Tesla has been developing, which basically amounts to a laser wiper.

Earlier this year, Tesla filed a patent application for something called “Pulsed Laser Cleaning of Debris Accumulated on Glass Articles in Vehicles and Photovoltaic Assemblies” and the patent became public this week.

Phiroze Dalal, a Staff Scientific and Industrial Imaging Specialist at Tesla, is credited as the inventor and he describes the invention in the patent application

“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.”

If it’s hard for you to imagine such a laser wiper system, my crude featured image might not actually be that far off based on the technical drawings in the patent application:

Tesla explains that the system could be useful to automatically remove any debris obstructing the view of the Autopilot cameras around the car.

Furthermore, Tesla plans to leverage the system to also automatically clean debris off of solar panels on roofs:

As usual, Tesla, like other companies, sometimes seeks patents on technologies that will never end up in production vehicles.

It’s not clear what will happen to this product, but I don’t see how anything can go wrong by putting lasers on self-driving robots.

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