Our innovation team constantly monitors and evaluates all the latest technology coming out of the automotive industry, giving us advance warning of developments and plans for connected cars, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles.
Our latest innovation bulletin relates to Tesla, who has obtained a patent first applied for in 2019 to design lasers to remove dirt and debris from the vehicle’s windscreen.
The patent, titled “pulsed laser cleaning of debris accumulated on glass articles in vehicles and photovoltaic assemblies”, outlines how a laser assembly would direct a beam at debris on a windscreen in order to “irradiate” and remove it.
The system would use cameras to detect debris or inclement weather, and then use lasers to clean the surface of material, including "snow, water droplets, paint, bird-droppings, bug-splats, plant-sap, oil spills, grimes, dirt, and mud."
The patent application does describe the laser assembly and that the beam wouldn’t penetrate any further than the depth of the actual windscreen glass.
Whether or not this technology will arrive on Tesla’s own production vehicles, let alone be rolled out widely across car manufacturers in future, is yet to be seen.
Despite the feature sounding outlandish it raises an important point of how OEMs need to work to clean various camera equipment relating to the function of ADAS, such as Tesla’s Autopilot.
As autonomous vehicles edge closer to our roads, the technology required to clean the sensors, cameras and lidar equipment around the vehicle needs to be considered to ensure safe operation.