Tesla and Elon Musk are well known for cutting-edge techniques that seem to be ahead of their age. Every month, the company comes up with innovations that can revolutionize the world. Recently, Musk unveiled the futuristic Cybertruck, an electric pickup truck whose controversial design and crystals make headlines.
And now, there is information about Tesla’s latest special patent to clean the windshields of cars with laser beams. The company filed a patent application for a system called “pulse laser cleaning of debris accumulated on the glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies” earlier this year.
Lasers would be used to clean all glass surfaces of Tesla vehicles, especially in the areas where the sensors and cameras are located for the semi-autonomous driving system of Tesla Autopilot. The system uses cameras to detect dirt on the windshield, side or rear glass, or camera lenses, and then burns them with the laser if necessary. The laser projectors would be placed on the hood, bass and rear bumper of the cars.
The question is, of course, do lasers really clean the glass surfaces better than conventional wipers? While we don’t know the answer, one thing is for sure; lasers can target parts of the car that the windshields can’t reach.
This is a well-thought-out, innovative solution, but are lasers safe for glass cleaning? Common sense suggests that the laser will pass through and possibly damage inside of the glass, including people in the car. However, Tesla experts have already addressed this issue. This could be accomplished by providing the glass with an indium tin oxide coating so that laser beams would not penetrate.
Last but not least, Tesla also recommends using the system to clean photovoltaic solar panels. It is known that impurities in solar cells greatly reduce their ability to generate electricity. Solar panel cleaning is a complex and labor-intensive business. Are lasers the solution we’ve all been waiting for?
Currently, the system is still a patent, and in practice, it must be proven effective before it can be made available to the public. Nevertheless, the idea behind innovation seems exciting, and it will be interesting to see where the idea can lead.