5 ways your windshield will change in the near future.

Windshileds of the future

5 ways your windshield will change in the near future.

Not since the invention of laminated safety glass in the 1940’s has there been much technological advancement to the common automotive windshield. However the windshield is actually a structural component of the modern automobile.

This lack of advancement is about to change in the very near future.

Today’s windshields are being fabricated with stronger, thinner and more lightweight materials. Automotive glass is becoming strong enough to serve as structural components much like Aluminum and carbon fiber have become.

Much like the smart phone in your hand, but glass is being used to run entire IoT (Internet of Things ) systems, ranging from entertainment to cloud connectivity, 3D imaging to vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

Here are six possibilities of the future of auto glass:

1. Sun visors and headlights could be a thing of the past

Some luxury brands already have rain sensors in windshields that turn on the wipers automatically when water is detected. These sensors are imbedded in the film that is sandwiched between the two layers of glass that make up the windshield.

This same film will be used to perform other functions in the future such as auto darkening similar to transitional eye glass lenses that shift from clear to sunglasses when exposed to light.

These types of windshields could also block harmful ultraviolet radiation. Studies show that consumers are willing to pay a premium for this kind of sun and glare blocking.

Engineers using nano technologies are working on ways to incorporate military style night vision capability using thermal imaging into the windshields of cars. This automatic night vision could eliminate the need for headlights all together

2. Solar powered Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

For decades, student engineers have been working with automakers to develop solar powered cars. With the rapid rise of electric and hybrid powered cars, solar power is the next logical step to fuel and extend the range of these vehicles.

Embedding a thin layer of solar panel cells could eventially cover the hood, roof and trunk and provide energy to power more sophisticated GPS units that share info beyond PS and map directions. Vehicles will be able to share traffic data compiled from all vehicles in the same local area. The DOT is currently testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications on 3,000 cars and trucks.
Another application for V2V and smart windshields involves vehicle-to-cloud (storage) uploading and data sharing, allowing cars to talk with each other, sharing info on road closures and detours, accident sights, traffic bottlenecks and other road hazards.

3. Heads-up displays

Engineers are developing windshields that can project 3D images that could aid in operating the vehicle.

With this technology, the driver’s eyes never leave the road. Integrated heads-up displays could allow drivers to access safety features such as issuing alerts for close obstacles like pedestrians or cyclists, safe braking distances, GPS guidance and mapping functions, and weather and traffic updates.

Automotive and safety engineers are also studying eye-tracking, by observing the driver’s eye movements. A self-driving or autonomous vehicle will be able to interpret if a driver has fallen asleep or is distracted and will guide the car safely off the road. Potentially this eye-tracking technology could be embedded in the windshield glass

4. Sensors and cameras within inches of glass

Many cars currently come equipped or optioned with basic sensors to alert drivers of blind spot dangers, lane-departure warning alerts, auto correction to keep wheels inside lane markers, and collision avoidance. These are incremental steps toward the mass acceptance of fully autonomous vehicles.

Mounting these sensors low to the ground or embedded in bumpers can be very expensive to replace. This could create legitimate insurance policy concerns during maintenance or repair time. If these same sensors or cameras were mounted close or attached to a windshield, this could reduce a lot of the expense to Insurance carriers at replacement time. However, any replacement of that glass will require a factory-trained recalibration which will create the need for very specialized repairs. Not all auto body and glass shops will be capable of making these investments in training and staffing.

5. No more wiper blades

Windshield wipers work adequately in rain, but are less effective the harder the rain is. Addressing these issues, Italian designer Leonardo Fioravanti invented a self-cleaning and water-repelling nano-dust system into his prototype Hindra vehicle.

His new system eliminates the need for wiper blades through the use of advanced nanotechnology and the aerodynamic principles of the car. The windshield repels the water and the wind coming over the windshield thereby blowing the water right off the glass.

Currently, specialized coatings exist that can repel water, ice and oil, but they wear off quickly. McLaren is currently testing a technique of using high-frequency sound waves on smart windshields to repel water as it hits the glass.

The car you drive tomorrow could incorporate any number of these technologies and will ultimately combine to create a safer and more connected car in the near future.

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