The Tesla Company filed a patent earlier this year for a laser beam technology that would replace windshield wipers. With this technology, they would also use the lasers to clean the surface of solar panels on rooftops.
The patent has recently become public and is called “Pulsed Laser Cleaning of Debris Accumulated on Glass Articles in Vehicles and Photovoltaic Assemblies.”
A staff scientific and industrial imaging specialist at Tesla named Phiroze Dalal is credited with the invention. He describes his work here:
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.
While the patent describes the laser mounted where a normal wiper would be, they will need to do testing to make sure it has no adverse effects on our eyesight. The lasers could end up being more useful for side windows and mirrors.
Including the cleaning of photovoltaic cells in the patent is a good idea. It’s not easy to go up on a roof and clean solar panels, but necessary to retain optimal output performance. If this technology can aid in clearing debris, that will be a big help to many home and business owners.
The invention of Tesla’s Cybertruck may have helped this forward-thinking invention as well. A computer-operated vehicle could certainly benefit from this as it could be implemented without the worry of harming operator eyesight.
Perhaps this technology would also be good for the soon to come passenger drones that are set to hit the market in 2021.