Cars

Patent Could Hold Clues to the Tesla Cybertruck’s Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are perhaps the least-interesting components on any new vehicle, especially so when you’re talking about a new vehicle as insane-looking as Tesla’s Cybertruck. But hold on—where are the Cybertruck’s windshield wipers? The electric pickup utterly lacks wipers (as well as side mirrors). Could it be Tesla simply didn’t have time to install the Cybertruck’s windshield wipers on the prototype shown at its reveal event last month? Or could it be that Tesla is still working on a novel new wiper design, previewed in a patent we recently discovered, for its new electric pickup truck?

Filed in March 2019 and published early in September, the patent shows off a design for a single windshield wiper that moves laterally, side-to-side, straight across the windshield. Unlike traditional wipers’ arcing rotational sweeps, the Tesla wiper, in concept, moves with pretty much the same motion as a human holding one of those gas-station wiper tools. It trades a rotating motor arm mount for a pair of tracks, essentially, at the top and bottom of the windshield glass. Electromagnets in those “rails” and on the wiper arm itself propel the wiper back and forth. The same basic technology propels maglev trains along.

What does this have to do with the Cybertruck’s windshield wipers? While Tesla notes in its patent filing how an electromagnetic, rail-based wiper system would be ideal for complex windshields with elaborate curves—ensuring optimal, um, wiping—the huge, flat windshield on the Cybertruck would make an ideal test bed for the technology. Tesla could literally install two straight rails, an electromagnetic wiper blade, and call it a day. And with the Cybertruck’s straight-edged looks, it isn’t difficult to imagine a single, vertical wiper blade tucked up against one of its windshield pillars, ready to glide laterally across the glass when needed.

Tesla also believes its novel windshield wiper design is more attractive than a typical wiper. We’d have to see one for ourselves to make such a judgment, but the wiper certainly would look more at home on the out-there-looking Cybertruck than a traditional set of wipers uggo-fying the base of the windshield. As a bonus, Tesla‘s patent filing claims the electromagnetic wiperis are more energy efficient than typical motor-driven wipers when in use, sucking up less charge from the battery (a concern for an electric car that fossil-fuel-powered vehicles needn’t worry about). We’ll have to wait and see what Tesla does with this patent going forward, but the automaker is clearly aiming to shake up pickup trucks and car building in general with the Cybertruck. And this wiper tech is a lot more grounded in reality than other futuristic windshield-wiping technologies we’ve seen, which include air blasted across the glass and funny water-repellent coatings.

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