Tesla Has Found a Use for Lasers—Cleaning Glass

A newly published patent application, for which Tesla filed in May, describes the “pulsed laser cleaning of debris” that tends to gather on car windshields and solar panels, both of which Tesla has an interest in keeping Mary Poppins–level spotless. Letting dirt and bird droppings accumulate on a Solar Glass Roof is likely to hobble its energy output. And along with blocking a human driver’s line of sight, a dirty windshield is a problem for the Autopilot cameras that pick out lane lines, and on which Tesla is relying to someday enable “full self-driving.”…

Now, the act of filing for a patent doesn’t indicate Tesla is serious about this idea, or anywhere near putting it into production cars. (Tesla spokespeople did not reply to questions about its intentions.) But the concept here is sound. Carnegie Mellon has produced an award-winning robot that uses lasers to strip the paint off of fighter jets, saving the Air Force from using chemical paint removers.