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Is McLaren about to do away completely with windshield wipers? According to comments made by the sports car manufacturer’s chief designer, that may just be the case.
Speaking recently with the Sunday Times (via CarsUK), Frank Stephenson said his employer is developing a system that can repel material from a windshield by creating a force field using high-frequency sound waves.
Such systems were originally created by the military for use on fighter jets.
Stephenson didn’t go into detail but explained that an ultrasonic transducer on the screen could send 30 kHz waves of ultrasound across the surface and repel all debris--even snow and insects.
Benefits of the system are said to be improved visibility, since debris would be repelled instantly, as well as improved aerodynamic efficiency, due to less drag. It would also mean no more days of having to remove ice from the windshield in northern climates, or at least that’s the thinking.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on when we might see the system fitted to one of McLaren’s cars. Note, this isn’t the first time Stephenson has mentioned the system. During a previous interview with YouTube channel Drive, Stephenson not only talked about wiper-less windshields but also color-changing exterior panels, glowing interiors and shape-changing memory materials.
The windscreen wiper has been around since 1903, and its basic design hasn’t changed much since. Coming up with the idea was inventor Mary Anderson, who saw the need for a ‘window cleaning device’ after she saw drivers sticking their heads out of the car to see where they were going during heavy rain.