Tesla Plans To Use LASERS Instead of Windshield Wipers
We’ve all been there- trying to clean your car window with vipers and water and it somehow ending up with dirtier grime smeared glass.
To this problem, Tesla has a unique out of the box solution. Lasers.
In a patent filed by Tesla (US020190351873) , the company talks about a technology that uses lasers to zap off dust and debris off cars.
While cars make do with wipers on their windshields, Tesla in their patent argues that the process of scrubbing away grime and letting the glass dry is inefficient and results in “unproductive time”.
But apart from that the dirt accumulation isn’t just a problem for the driver’s line of sight but also for the autopilot cameras that help with navigation and the chemicals in wiper fluid could damage a camera’s electronics. And these cameras are what Tesla is relying on, to go fully self-driving someday.
According to the patent, the chemicals in wiper fluid could damage the camera’s electronics, so using a laser to burn off grime and unwanted muck would be more efficient and safer for the cameras as well as windshield.
Apart from that, the patent highlights how the sliding motion of the wiper creates a lot of friction, resulting in the need for additional power to be supplied by the in-vehicle battery, which decreases vehicle range. Although as of now we don’t know how much battery it takes to zapp up gunk from the window, as compared to windshield wipers.
The patent talks about a cleaning system of vehicles which includes a system that emits a laser beam that is intended to eradicate dirt and debris off the glass of the vehicle. The system would be set to detect the location of the debris. Upon detection, the system would assess and set the exposure levels of the laser beam. The exposure level is also controlled with the thickness of the vehicle glass in mind.
Apart from the thickness of the glass, another parameter for the exposure of the laser will be based on the dirt that has accumulated on the window screen. The intensity of the laser will be strong enough to eradicate the dirt based on the amount of dirt gathered on screen, but less than the level that would penetrate the glass window.
It is interesting that Tesla is thinking of using lasers to clean its vehicle’s windshield, while they refuse to use it in their cars for navigation, depending solely on cameras for self-navigation. Tesla has in the past famously refused to use LIDAR (a system of navigation which uses lasers to gauge distance between objects around a self-driving vehicle) for its cars and has the navigation system based solely on image capturing and processing.
While the idea to clean car windows with lasers seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, it is no fiction as previously alternative uses of lasers have been experimented with. Researchers have considered using lasers to strip paint off of fighter jets, to clean stained glass and to restore paintings.
We don’t know for sure if Tesla will go through with the idea or if they just wanted to call dibs on it since they have also patented another idea for an electromagnetic wiper.
The patent talks about a wiper which includes a wiper arm attached to an electronic moving block. The block would move in a linear motion to steer the wiper arm back and forth across the length of the windshield.
This would result in a more functional wiper compared to conventional ones since linear electronic wipers would work with reduced friction and would cover a wider expanse of the window. They would also draw less power from the car’s battery as electromagnets are frictionless.
This idea to replace water with lasers for cleaning may help the company let people save some amount of water, which is more relevant after Tesla has been facing water crisis issues in Germany.
Earlier Elon Musk laughed when asked whether the construction of cars in the Tesla factory will affect the water levels of the area in Germany which already has depleted water levels. He further called the notion “completely wrong” but six months later the plant stopped producing vehicles due to the water crisis.
Irina Engelhardt, who heads the hydrogeology department at Berlin’s Technical University said “Tesla will increase the problem for sure. There might not be enough water for everyone.”
This came after the region suffered from falling groundwater levels and prolonged droughts due to climate change. The company may go to court for the legal challenge that the situation has sparked. It may result in delay or even a complete stop to the 5 billion-euro ($5.7 billion) project, no doubt putting a big dent in the company’s budget and expansion ideas.
According to Axel Bronstert, a hydrology professor at the University of Potsdam, its “naive to think that the limited water reserves would suffice for both the factory and residents. He believes that the Tesla Factory would roughly double the amount of water consumed in the Gruenheide area which according to him is very serious.
But in other parts of the world there might be an uptick in Tesla purchases considering the recent hike in petrol prices. Tesla is aiming to double sales to 2 million cars this year, as the higher up-front cost of EVs becomes more palatable than the running costs of ICE cars.
In 2015, Tesla started to commercialize ‘Autopilot’ features in its cars and soon started the race to be the top autonomous vehicle company. So, while all companies in the autonomous vehicle domain are doing something innovative, we can always bet on Tesla to do something out of the box. What’s more, the
So whichever method windshield cleaning Tesla ends up using, we are sure to see interesting mechanisms on their next models of cars.