Tesla secures patent for laser windshield cleaning technology

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The patent covers a system capable of detecting and cleaning debris from vehicle glass using pulsed laser beams. (Image: Tesla)

Almost two years on from its original filing, Tesla has secured a patent for an automated laser cleaning system for glass on vehicles and solar panels.

The patent was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on 7 September.

It covers a system capable of detecting and cleaning debris from such glass using pulsed laser beams.

At the time of filing, Tesla wrote in its 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.'

The patent is titled: Pulsed laser cleaning of debris accumulated on glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies.

A windshield and a bonnet portion of a vehicle configured with the proposed laser cleaning apparatus. (Image: Tesla)

Ben O'Hare, a reporter from electric transport news site Electrek, who noticed the updated grant status, remarked: 'It’s important to keep in mind that companies often seek patents on technologies that will never end up in consumer products, and this could be the case here. But I still think it’s interesting that Tesla thought it would be worth securing IP on this particular technology.'

What are the challenges in designing such a solution in a way that ensure's the eye safety of both the driver and those in the vicinity of the vehicle? Let us know your thoughts/concerns at: editor.lasersystems@europascience.com.

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