posted 5 years ago

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! 


That's all OK in Spring, summer, and autumn, but IN WINTER??? I use the wipers to clear snow and frost in the morning, etc, with my antifreeze screenwash... I use Rainex in summer, etc, which is practical I also use it on my light aircraft, too.

The new no windscreen wiper but ultra sound has it been tested for animal and insect safty so thay don't go to the road to find out as thay have better hearing and bats thay work on ultra sound for hunting.I think it will not work good the only way . I think the wiper pick it self up from the window when it stop mode so it don't stick when it cold and ice window all u need is a ring that is shape like a thin to thick rim so when it on the window it turn to thin side and when it off it will bee on the thick side and off the glass so it wont stick on .so old cars and new cars still benafit and it be safe for all on the word from G.A.W

I use RAIN X on my Classic, Fantastic, if used regularly who needs wipers anyway?

Can't wait for this ! It will stop me going crazy, when the rain is so slight it makes them screetch all the time. Will it keep off small stones which seem to make my screen look like a pepper pot ?

landing speed angle of canopy ok for jets ask a helicopter pilot if it would work

So all this will be included at no extra cost to the buyer ??

What will happen on frostie mornings?

A British car mag not so long ago marked down a budget Kia on test for not having air-con as standard. Crazy crazy world! Give me wind-up windows, but I don't knock McLaren for pushing the envelope; they make supercars that make yus proud to be British. For me, my resolution for 2014 is: "Save the Environment and Drive a Classic" (With wipers and wind-up windows!) Happy New Year everyone!

It sounds a great idea . I guess that will be on the new cars so what happens to the old cars

What a load of wish wash.!!!!! Totally ridiculous.

Interesting, but not completely failsafe [as stewart meyer comments, and Robert beveridge] ie frost and tree sap. Also, how is having 4 electric window motors less weight than 4 winder handles? Progress is not always advantages, you can have an all singing all dancing modern car with its computer controlled engine management system, but you need the programme and laptop to go with it when it goes wrong, and like most things, it will, given time. I like an ashtray [no I don't smoke] you can keep small change for parking meters etc in it!

It sounds a great idea but how will the ultra sound device affect out body's etc it e.g. long term exporlsure???

why not ultra sound the sky no more weather !! daft as a brush

It will be quite some time before Joe Bloggs drives a car with this technology, it might work ok on posh cars, but ours are are left out in the frost and get covered with tree sap or bird muck etc. New Tech is ok for people who secretly don't like cars or driving, and is the cause of the demise of driving pleasure, and general mechanical skills. Eventually technology will account for every mile you drive, there will be no hiding place if you are driving a car.

What happens to the army of squeegee operatives? Presumably they will be vibrated away too! This is one of those stories that generally waits till April 1st

So the car has been left standing overnight under trees, or near the roosts of jackdaws (personal experience!) The windscreen is now liberally covered with a sticky mess of tree sap and droppings. Good luck cleaning that lot off with ultrasound!

Why stop at the windscreen, consider the whole car exterior - no more washing?

Wasn't this also the same technology used in modern SLR type Cameras to keep dirt off the internal mirrors? The problem I see with the system being applied to cars is that there are more hard as well as squishy things about near the ground, which when they hit the windscreens could be too tacky for ultrasonic vibrations to remove them. Also will the ultrasonic vibrations applied to the glass cause stone chipped windscreens to be more prone to cracking?

I remember reading some article suggesting ultrasonic windscreen cleaning decades ago, presumably before the technology was actually available. Makes sense. On the subject of sound waves, I still don't understand why manufacturers don't use noise cancelling technology to deaden the sound inside a car. It's effective and cheap, and more use than zillions of cup-holders....

Fantastic news, this will really upset the traffic wardens!

If the MOD had really invented this, they would have capitalized on it long ago. Urban myth, I think. BTW, a few commas and full stops wouldn't hurt.

While they are at it, how about doing something to replace the sun visor so that when you want protection from glare through the driver's window you don't risk taking your eye out, apart from losing control of the car,

Again it sounds as though technology has the answer that has all the dedicated followers of fashion straining at the leash... Ultra sonic windscreens seem good in theory but the questions how much do they cost to replace and can local labour fix them when they go wrong spring to mind. We have seen a huge upsurge of cars being scrapped long before they are worn out because they are simply too expensive and sometimes too difficult to repair. This situation affects depreciation and trade-in values and deprives the bottom end of the car market from reasonably priced transport. Scrapping anything before it is completely worn out is much of what is currently harming our planet and it matters not what the government claims, cars are not properly recycled at the end of their life because to do so would be too expensive. Car manufacturers are irresponsible and governments tell lies to the public while aiding and abetting those manufacturers and it is the dedicated followers of fashion who are like manna from heaven to governments and industry alike. Discarding anything before it is completely worn out and then not reusing what can be reused and not properly recycling the rest is immoral and those individuals who approve and support such waste are equally immoral! For myself I will stick to the system the guy down the road can fix until I discover whether vibrating windscreens are cheaper and how much of the technology can be reused and recycled and how much of it actually will be.

What about starting the engine first thing in the morning! Or does the device keep running in the background whilst engine in off position

There MUST be a better way of keeping screens clear than wiping them. Can you imagine a dishwasher actually wiping dishes with a cloth?

What about rain, dirt, snow, ice and grease that build up whilst the vehicle is not in use? How will that be cleaned without a wash bottle and wipers? Will we all have to carry a bucket of water and a chamois leather in the boot?

I've got a 21 year old Toyota that has vibrating mirrors that clear rain and ice within seconds.

I have used the Rain Away type coating for many years ever since it became available. I have found this to be a great alternative to wipers whn driving on the motorways, the airflow across the screen caused the water droplets to run up the screen and away. The result is a clear screen, it also helps to prevent sirt etc. from sticking on the screen. However I will await this new development with interest.

what about clearing ice before setting off?

The sooner the better, wipers never seem to run at the right speed for the volume of rain.