McLaren may replace windshield wipers with sound
Sports car maker reportedly developing system that clears moisture using high-frequency sound waves.
Automakers are increasingly using technology to do away with traditional car parts ranging from rearview mirrors to mechanical steering linkage, in part to save weight and thereby increase fuel efficiency or performance. And also because, well, they can.
Now the high-end sports car manufacturer McLaren may be looking into doing away with windshield wipers. McLaren chief designer Frank Stephenson told the Sunday Times of London that the automaker is developing a system that can clear moisture and other material from a windshield by using high-frequency sound waves.
Stephenson explained that a transducer attached to the windshield could send high-frequency ultrasound across the surface to repel water -- whether as a liquid or a solid such as snow and ice -- as well as insects, debris and other, um, droppings.
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The benefits of this technology, which was originally designed for use on military fighter jets, is that it supposedly improves visibility since moisture and other debris could be instantly repelled. Of course, it also improves aerodynamics -- and therefore fuel efficiency -- since it reduces drag. And it could mean almost instant removal of ice from windshields for those living in northern climes.
Stephenson didn’t divulge a time frame for when McLaren might add the technology to its production cars, but it isn’t the first time he has mentioned it. Stephenson discussed wiperless windshields during an interview with YouTube channel Drive last year.
Given that the windscreen wiper has been around for over a century with little change in design -- it was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903, after she noticed drivers sticking their heads out in rainstorms -- maybe it’s time for a technology update.
[Source: Sunday Times]
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