Windshield wipers may soon be replaced by ultrasonic sound waves

Windshield wipers may soon be replaced by ultrasonic sound waves image

Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: | posted December 17, 2013 11:52

May be pricey at first but will bottom-out at just $15

Formula 1 constructor McLaren is developing technology that can only found in the military, specifically jet fighter planes, to keep water, bugs, mud and anything else that has the misfortune of slamming on your freshly-washed automobile’s windscreen, well off it.

Since 1903, all vehicles have used rubber blades to wipe off dirt and what-not that sticks to the windshield and to clean it up.  But new ultrasonic sound technology that uses high frequency waves to keep aircraft’s windshield constantly clean is being tapped to fit automobiles.

“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,” said Frank Stephenson, the chief designer at McLaren.

“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,” Mr Stephenson added.

Aside from the aesthetic benefits, it may improve fuel economy by doing away with wiper motors.

If successful, this system may be installed on McLaren's $250,000 sports cars by 2015 could be available for mass production for as little as $15 in a few years.