Tesla is arguably the most high-tech automaker in the world, but it doesn’t stop its innovation at electric powertrains and software.
The automaker is even bringing its innovation to windshield wipers with a futuristic-looking new electromagnetic wiper design, according to a new patent application.
Problems with conventional wipers
The goal of the new wiper is to find a better balance between hiding it when not in use, which has become a new standard in luxury vehicle, and remaining efficient when you need to use it.
In a new patent application, Tesla describes problems with current wipers:
Advancements in the field of windshield cleaning systems and ergonomic vehicle design have led to an increase in the demand for windshield wiper systems that are not only visually appealing but are also effective in cleaning the windshields of a vehicle. In certain scenarios, a driver or in-vehicle cameras (e.g., in case of assisted and autonomous driving) require an unobstructed field-of-view of the path ahead from inside of a vehicle. Conventional windshield wiper systems that use multiple wiper blades usually have a cluttered design and do not sufficiently clear the windshield, which may hamper the unobstructed field-of-view of the path ahead.
Tesla also describes issues with conventional wiper systems having a lot of mechanical parts that can wear down fast due to the repetitive movements that wipers have to do.
The electric automaker even says that conventional wiper systems are not energy efficient:
However, such sliding motion of the mechanical components creates significant friction, resulting in the need for additional power to be supplied by the in-vehicle battery, which decreases vehicle range.
Finally, Tesla also says that it can be difficult to design a dual wiper system that can correctly clean a windshield with a more complex curvature.
Tesla electromagnetic wipers
Tesla’s design would instead use a single blade matching the windshield and would move along an electromagnetic system under the hood.
The automaker describes its new wiper system in a new patent application:
The disclosed electromagnetic wiper system may further include a linear actuator that may include a guide rail and an electromagnetic moving block. The guide rail may include a plurality of permanent magnet bars that may be disposed horizontally along a curvature of the windshield of the vehicle. The electromagnetic moving block may act as an electromagnetic train, and may include a plurality of perforations and at least an electromagnetic coil that surrounds the plurality of perforations in the electromagnetic moving block. The disclosed electromagnetic wiper system may further include control circuitry that controls the linear motion of the electromagnetic moving block through the plurality of permanent magnet bars. The linear motion of the electromagnetic moving block through the plurality of permanent magnet bars may be controlled to steer the wiper arm that may be coupled to the electromagnetic moving block, back and forth across the entire length of the windshield to wipe a defined region, for example, the entire transparent area (i.e., near cent percent area) of the windshield. The plurality of permanent magnet bars may pass through the plurality of perforations surrounded by the electromagnetic coil in the electromagnetic moving block. This may result in minimal friction during the linear motion of the electromagnetic moving block. Alternatively stated, the disclosed electromagnetic wiper system may utilize the current carrying electromagnetic coil in the electromagnetic moving block to generate a magnetic induction-based electrodynamic force to steer the wiper arm, and is thereby able to efficiently and effectively minimize friction that otherwise may exist between the moving elements of a conventional wiper system.
Here are some drawings that came with the patent application:
Tesla also says that the system would be triggered by its neural net-based rain and snow detection system, which is already deployed in its vehicles with second generation Autopilot.
To be fair, companies don’t always bring to production technologies that they patent, nor do we know for what vehicles Tesla would be planning to use this new technology.
However, the inventors listed on the patent applications are all engineers working to build systems intended to be used on Tesla vehicles.
Maithreya Kedambadi and Gonzalo Espinoza Graham, both Tesla mechanical engineers, wrote on Linkedin that they were “designing, developing, and validating exterior electro-mechanical systems.”
Graham specifically said that they were developing those systems “for Model S, Model X, and Model 3.”
Nicolas Clift, a more senior engineer at Tesla, is also listed as an inventor on the patent, and he has been responsible for Tesla’s wiper and window systems.
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