We know that windshield wiper technology isn’t exactly thrilling stuff. You’re probably not picking your next vehicle based the size, shape, or effectiveness of the windshield wipers. Sure, maybe you were suckered in by the marketing of “rain-sensing wipers.” However, we’re willing to bet it wasn’t the deciding factor.

Tesla is now trying to revolutionize the windshield wiper. They just applied for a new patent that could change how you think about wipers. Or at least make you think about them at all. Maybe.

The September 5 patent filing describes a “electromagnetic wiper system for the windshield of a vehicle.” It’s a single blade design, which Tesla believes is more efficient and better looking than traditional wiper designs. Amazingly, it works using electromagnets and guide rails instead of the standard small motor and gears. CarAndDriver described it as a miniature version of high-speed MagLev train, which use magnetic levitation to move around.

Tesla’s potential new system will use less power than traditional versions. It may not sound like a big deal, but every bit of power counts when it comes to electric vehicles. Without using that extra energy, Tesla vehicles with this new wiper system will likely see slight increases in range. The biggest factor is eliminating many of the friction points from traditional wiper systems. Tesla’s new electromagnetic version are basically frictionless.

Why Wipers?

Of all the things that Tesla could spend R&D resources on, you might be wondering why they bothered with wiper blades? As the company inches closer and closer to Full Self-Driving, they are always mindful of their autonomous driving features. Their semi-autonomous system (dubbed Autopilot) will likely benefit from this new wiper system. It relies on a series of cameras and sensors to work properly. A more-efficient and durable windshield wiper system will prevent visibility issues. That should help make Autopilot safer and more useful.

Of course, even without the self-driving aspect, it’s interesting to see Tesla strive to innovate in every single corner of their EVs. While the long-range batteries, gull wing doors, and nifty software attract most of the attention, this patent shows that Tesla isn’t ignoring simple things either. Even a slight increase in visibility will make drivers safer. No one would have shamed Tesla for sticking with traditional wipers. After all, everyone else is. Instead, they continue to surprise the auto industry with new technology.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.