Is it the end of the road for the windscreen wiper?
New ultrasound device could be the replacement
Supercar designers McLaren are working on plans to replace the rubber wiper with a hi-tech ultrasound device that stops anything from sticking to the windscreen. McLaren is keeping its design a closely guarded secret, according to the Sunday Times, but believes it could improve vehicle efficiency by removing the weight of wiper motors, so it could be the end of the road for the humble windscreen wiper!
Frank Stephenson, chief designer at McLaren said “the windscreen wiper is an archaic piece of technology. We’ve had them since cars began and it’s one of the last bastions of design to overcome.” He suggested the military had kept the technology under wraps, adding “it took a lot of effort to get this out of a source in the military. I asked why you don’t see wipers on some aircraft when they are coming in at very low speeds for landing. I was told that it’s not a coating on the surface but a high frequency electronic system that never fails and is constantly active. Nothing will attach to the windscreen.”
The proposed design is understood to centre on high frequency sound waves that effective create a force field across the windscreen preventing water, insects and mud from resting on the glass it is adapted from a similar system used on fighter jets. It would create tiny vibrations outside the range of human hearing that shake off anything debris that comes near.
We already have sound wave technology which is used in unborn baby scans and by dentists for removing plaque. The system could be introduced in to McLaren’s range of cars, which cost from around £170,000 to £870,000, by 2015 and if successful there is no doubt the system will be adopted by mass produced cars. It would mean that wiper arms will end up in the past together with wind up windows and ashtrays which have already vanished from cars.
The wiper was invented back in 1903 by Mary Anderson an Amercian property developer; she invented the wiper after seeing a New York tram driver struggle to see in falling sleet. In the same year James Henry Apjohn patented a device in the UK that saw two brushes move up and down on a glass windscreen.
Who knows by 2015 frozen windscreen wipers and flies smeared all over the windscreen could be something we don’t have to contend with anymore. No replacement wipers to be fitted when they wear out, so there will be no use for the windscreen water tank either now there is a thought no driving down the road cursing as the wiper fluid tank is empty throwing a bottle of water over the windscreen when you can’t see!