A new sci-fi-inspired patent filing in the USA suggests the next generation of electric cars could clean themselves with high-power lasers.
Tesla appears to have drawn inspiration from the 1980s arcade games Asteroids and Space Invaders for its newest invention.
A 2019 blueprint, recently made public by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), shows a device that cleans glass surfaces of dirt, muck, and bugs with targeted high-power lasers.
“[This is] a cleaning system for a vehicle and 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,” the filing says.
The device, according to the document, will be capable of digitally hosing down “windshields, in-vehicle camera lenses [for autonomous driving], side windows, rear-view mirrors … and solar panels.”
However, the existence of a patent does not necessarily mean next-generation electric cars from the brand will actually deploy laser windscreen wipers – manufacturers often file to protect products that ultimately don’t make it to market, either to earmark a design option or to prevent competitors from appropriating an idea.
In Australia, design regulations currently mandate any vehicle with more than three wheels and a windscreen must have at least one functional mechanical wiper blade.
Drive has contacted Tesla for comment, and this story will be updated if more information becomes available.
William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry. He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy. As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic. Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.