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Next-Gen Windshield Wipers To Be Based On Jet Fighter "Forcefield" Tech

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the rain-rain-go-away dept.

Transportation 237

cartechboy writes "It looks like the old-school windshield wiper is about to be replaced by new technology — but not until 2015. British car-maker McLaren is apparently developing a new window cleaning system that is modeled from fighter jet tech. The company isn't revealing exactly how it will work, but the idea comes from the chief designer simply asking a military source why you don't see wipers on jets as they land. Experts expect McClaren to use constantly active, high-frequency sound waves outside the range of human hearing that will effectively create a force field across a car's windshield to repel water, ice insects and other debris. Similar sound waves are used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth."

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237 comments

Ice insects? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705727)

This wiper also keeps lions away.

Re:Ice insects? (5, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | about 4 months ago | (#45705831)

I know some journalists hate the Oxford Comma, but this is getting ridiculous,

Re:Ice insects? (0, Redundant)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about 4 months ago | (#45705977)

it would still look stupid if done with the "new comma" way or whatever they call the Anti-Oxford way, but they didn't even do that right because in that case it would have had to be "to repel water, ice, insects and other debris"

and the correct overall way would be "to repel water, ice, insects, and other debris"

Also this technology (not the commas) sounds pretty cool. I would like to have it all over my car so that no parts of it get dirty.

Re:Ice insects? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706049)

lol it makes perfect sense if you read it like you're Tony Soprano. Wadda we doin ova hear wit dees damn winshield wipeas? Get wit it and get me the fuckin jet tech so I can ice these damn bugs already! waddaya, stupid?

Re:Ice insects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705833)

I find the odd insect shoots and leaves a problem.

Re:Ice insects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706313)

Looks like it keeps commas away too

Re:Ice insects? (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#45706403)

Can it be adjusted by turning a knob. So if it is raining really hard I can divert power from the AC to the Shields.

High power ultrasound? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705743)

so it also drives cats, dogs and other animals crazy in 100m radius?

Re:High power ultrasound? (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 4 months ago | (#45705897)

So, added bonus then! Can it be tuned into the range that only children and teenagers hear as well?

Re:High power ultrasound? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706447)

I still have most of my high end hearing and I'm over 30. I can still tell when a CRT is turned on in another room. When the AC units run at full at work, there is a high pitch sound that makes my ears ring and eventually hurt. Even after many years of this, I can still hear these really high pitch sounds. No one else can.

I remember hunting down a CRT that someone left on. The power light was burnt out on it, so no one knew it was still on, but because the computer was turned off, the tube looked like it powered down, but not entirely. It's hard to tell which directly high pitch sounds are coming from, but they are quite directional and don't reflect well off of the cloth cubical materials. By turning my head side to side, I was able to figure out which of the 20 monitors scatter around the room was still on. No one else could hear it, but it was driving me up the wall and was giving me a headache.

Another time I heard another loud sound coming from a projector. I told them it was making a funny noise and was quite annoying, but no one else could hear it. Because it was ceiling mounted, the sound traveled further over the tops of the cubicals. The next day, the bulb started to flicker for a few hours, then burnt out. The flickering matched up with the sound. The more noticeable the flickering got, the lower the tone, until others could also hear the projector making noise.

Re:High power ultrasound? (3, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#45706381)

Oh, man, like brown noise. I hope this thing makes dogs shit all over everything.

Oh, wait.

Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705747)

Technology only develops from space, not military stuff.

Re:Impossible (5, Funny)

bondsbw (888959) | about 4 months ago | (#45705779)

I'm pretty sure that most tech involving sound waves is not developed in space.

Re:Impossible (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705847)

In space, no one can hear you wipe

What they didn't say... (1)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 4 months ago | (#45705759)

Jet shaped vehicles may be required to use this device.

Re:What they didn't say... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705825)

Don't worry, this if from an engineer at McLauren, they already fixed the "our cars don't look like jet fighters" problem years ago.

Re:What they didn't say... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706041)

It also helps to be going about 150mph - 180mph. Not a lot of things stick at that speed. Or to be at 10,000+ feet. Not a lot of insects at that altitude.

Re:What they didn't say... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 4 months ago | (#45706243)

"why you don't see wipers on jets as they land"

Not a lot of jets are doing 150mph - 180mph the entire time they're landing. Nor do they generally land at 10,000+ feet.

Arthur C. Clarke (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705783)

This idea appeared (invented in?) The Ghost From The Grand Banks by Arthur C.Clarke.

Re:Arthur C. Clarke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705841)

I also remember seeing a prototype being demo'd on a car some 20+ years ago on Beyond 2000. Old tech is old.

Re:Arthur C. Clarke (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 4 months ago | (#45706327)

I was just going to post that. It was more or less the only really interesting thing I remember from that entire book.

Cool, about time for some windshield wiper tech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705787)

It seems like every time I buy a windshield wiper anymore it is trashed within a few days. There's a lot of players out there in the windshield wiper industry that peddle garbage, and it is hard to know which one is good.

Re:Cool, about time for some windshield wiper tech (2)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 4 months ago | (#45706317)

Notice you can't buy refills anymore? Used to be, you just bought the rubber part and only replaced the rigid part when it was really trashed (basically never). Now stores only sell the whole blade.

Progress!

(on topic, nobody drives a McLaren in the rain.)

Re:Cool, about time for some windshield wiper tech (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#45706567)

Notice you can't buy the cheap blades anymore? Car manufacturers got in bed with the wiper manufacturers and created new proprietary connectors that are brand specific so you have to buy the premium blades that come with adapters. The cheap blades come with the former standard metal clip that worked simply and perfectly and was not in need of replacement.

Re:Cool, about time for some windshield wiper tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706461)

It's unlikely you'll see this in any normal car. McLaren make cars costing more than a half million dollars that go over 200 mph, so their requirements and budget for windshield cleaning are both significantly higher than your average Toyota.

What if windshield has a minor crack (3, Interesting)

schwit1 (797399) | about 4 months ago | (#45705791)

Will the vibrations exacerbate the crack?

Re:What if windshield has a minor crack (2)

nytes (231372) | about 4 months ago | (#45706069)

No, your windshield just explodes.

But then you still don't need any windshield wipers!

What happens when it can't keep up? (4, Insightful)

Monty845 (739787) | about 4 months ago | (#45705809)

What happens when its raining heavily, and a vehicle going the other way hits a puddle, and dumps a massive wave of water on your windshield? What happens when its full inch of heavy slush? I'd say its a nice addition on top of regular wipers, but I'm very skeptical about replacing them.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (4, Funny)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#45705845)

They forgot to mention that you need to be driving 500 mph for these to be most effective.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (5, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 4 months ago | (#45705867)

Solution: Don't drive a McClaren in those conditions. You'll just have to take the Bentley, or the Rolls Royce.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (4, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 4 months ago | (#45706183)

Solution: Don't drive a McClaren in those conditions. You'll just have to take the Bentley, or the Rolls Royce.

You don't drive a Bentley or a Rolls Royce... Your chauffeur drives the Bentley or the Roller. So it doesn't matter how the windscreen is kept clean as you will be riding in back, far away from such irrelevancies.
As it should be.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705907)

I imagine you'll see both technologies used in conjunction. The new sonic tech for light use, and if things get heavy, then go manual. Besides, I doubt the entrenched replacement wiper blade lobby will let things change too much...

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 4 months ago | (#45706053)

Same thing that happens currently....

You either go oh fuck, swerve, and crash or calmly wait for your "wipers" to catch up.

Oddly this is the same thing that happens when an asshat comes over the top of the hill with their high beams on...

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (1)

geekd (14774) | about 4 months ago | (#45706349)

McLaren makes super high end sports cars. You would not drive your McLaren in those conditions.

For example, the McLaren P1 *starts* at $1.3 million.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706521)

McLaren makes super high end sports cars. You would not drive your McLaren in those conditions.

For example, the McLaren P1 *starts* at $1.3 million.

why not? if i could afford to own a P1 i would drive it as often as possible, regardless of the conditions. Its a full carbon tub with Alu Crash structure, I don't see it rusting away any time soon. Anyone who buys one of these cars who thinks that 1.3 million is a large amount is already stepping outside of their means to buy one of these cars and should just stick with the high end sports cars in the 150,000 to 250,000 range.

Re:What happens when it can't keep up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706587)

What happens when its raining heavily, and a vehicle going the other way hits a puddle, and dumps a massive wave of water on your windshield? What happens when its full inch of heavy slush? I'd say its a nice addition on top of regular wipers, but I'm very skeptical about replacing them.

My guess is that the vibrations will keep the water/slush from sticking to the windshield and it will just fall right off.

Or... (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about 4 months ago | (#45705815)

You could just buy a bottle of Rain-X.

Re: Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705839)

Nothing beats RainX!

Re: Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705913)

until it wears off after two weeks

Re:Or... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#45705921)

I don't know any more about this than I was told by a windshield tech, but the people they send out to fix chips in windows so they don't develop into cracks, first ask if you've ever used rainx on your windshield. I'm told that whatever they use to repair chips (I'm totally ignorant on the technology) doesn't work on windshields treated with rainx.

On the other hand, rainx works really well for its intended purpose.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706697)

I use rain-x without issue and I had the windshield repaired. The tech cleaned the area with alcohol prior to doing the repair. I assume this negated any effects that rain-x may have.

Re:Or... (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 4 months ago | (#45706033)

Too bad it generally works poorly below 40-50 MPH for most windscreen angles. It's really the poorest quality hydrophobic treatment available. Regular carnuba wax works equally well.

Re:Or... (1)

ewibble (1655195) | about 4 months ago | (#45706451)

what about this stuff? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYlDVimu1s0 [youtube.com]

Re:Or... (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#45706599)

They address that on their website. 1) It's not a clear coating, it creates a frosted appearance so wouldn't be usable where you need clarity and 2) it's not very durable... When I applied it to some test pieces it worked great for about 2 days and then was just about worthless. Might still be waterproof, but stuff didn't bead up anymore.

Compressed Air (2)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about 4 months ago | (#45705873)

Surely someone at the automotive companies has already tested a tiny, high pressure air nozzle that sweeps across from just below the windscreen. It's nice that McLaren is driving new technology, but face it, our cars could be much better. The issue is always budgets, and the $1 here, $4 there for better components supposedly adds up to automobiles costing 2-4x what they currently do. At least that is what the accountants that turn down the engineers ideas say. Sometimes that is true, sometimes I want to yell bullshit as I whack someone upside the head with a baseball bat.

Re:Compressed Air (3, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | about 4 months ago | (#45706009)

"The issue is always budgets, and the $1 here, $4 there for better components supposedly adds up ... Sometimes that is true, sometimes I want to...whack someone upside the head with a baseball bat."

While baseball bats may be suitable, we here in accounting will only approve the less expensive 1-meter steel pipe from Dai Yung Enterprises.

Re:Compressed Air (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45706165)

Where I work you have to bring your own baseball bat, yet everybody still uses them. I think it's only decent to make an accountant happy about a cost saving measure like that, just before you splatter his brains around the room.

Re:Compressed Air (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 4 months ago | (#45706247)

While baseball bats may be suitable, we here in accounting will only approve the less expensive 1-meter steel pipe from Dai Yung Enterprises.

The shipping price of the 1 meter steel pipe is too high. We are therefor substituting a 1 meter aluminum pipe.

-- Procurement Dept.

Not the first time on cars (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#45705889)

I remember another car manufacturer was testing this in the late '90s-early 2000s, Mercedes IIRC?

Re:Not the first time on cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706629)

It was Mitsubishi.
the had a show car that had ultrasonic windshield cleaning and full front & rear transparent defroster/defoggers.

Rain X (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 4 months ago | (#45705893)

Works like a champ!

Re:Rain X (5, Interesting)

DougF (1117261) | about 4 months ago | (#45706129)

...for about 30 seconds and then as the aircraft accelerates past 200kts or so, the rain x is scrubbed off. We tried it, didn't work. Best thing is to use a plexiglass polish to keep the glass as smooth as possible between flights. A bug hitting the windscreen of a fighter jet going 500+kts is not going to be repelled by high frequency sound or any hydrophobic surface. I've seen dents in the leading edges of the wings just from hitting grasshoppers...

Re:Rain X (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 4 months ago | (#45706513)

I use stuff called Plexus [plexusplasticcleaner.com] on motorcycle windshields and helmet visors. It cleans, protects, and polishes out scratches and haze. I've never tried it at 200 kts, but it's amazing stuff. Would be interesting to know how it works on an aircraft canopy.

Rain-X I used on the inside of goggles to prevent fogging until I discovered Scott No Fog Cloth [motorcycle...rstore.com] . Nothing else works like it.

Dogs will love that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705901)

Fido says fuck-off at the next car ride - and trips to the vet? Oh those will be howlarious.

Re:Dogs will love that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706199)

The one thing you see everywhere is proud McLaren owners going for a ride with their dogs. Oh wait.

Re:Dogs will love that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706333)

It's funny because it's true. Not a single McLaren owner has a dog or has had the dog in the car, because you said so. FUCK YOU'RE BRILLIANT! What's the next fucking lotto numbers I'm gonna be motherfucking rich! Because you said so! Fucking SWEET!

Dog gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705925)

"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."

vs.

"The hearing ability of a dog is dependent on breed and age, though the range of hearing is usually around 40 Hz to 60 kHz (60,000 Hz)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range

Re:Dog gone. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#45706315)

I believe 30,000 cycles per second is greater than 40 cycles per second and less than 60,000 cycles per second so 30 kHz is within that range. Did you read 40 Hz as 40 kHz?

Howling dogs (4, Funny)

cyberfringe (641163) | about 4 months ago | (#45705947)

Is this why my dog howls when he drives my McClaren in the rain? I always thought he howled for the sheer fun of it!

Not the plaque cleaner, please! (2)

nytes (231372) | about 4 months ago | (#45705981)

Similar sound waves are used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth.

Um, I hear those sound waves just fine (high frequency sensitive). My dentist had to give up using it on me.

If this sounds anything like that horrid sonic plaque cleaner, I'm going to have to move to my zombie apocalypse survival compound in Montana. Too bad, I was saving it for the actual zombie apocalypse.

Re:Not the plaque cleaner, please! (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#45706145)

Um, I hear those sound waves just fine (high frequency sensitive). My dentist had to give up using it on me.

You may not actually be hearing the sound waves themselves, but the harmonics they create inside of your skull/jawbone/ear.

I can hear them too, but I've more or less concluded that, like everything else in a dentist office, it's temporary and the benefits outweigh the nuisance.

I hate the sound, but it seems less problematic than the medieval tools they use otherwise.

Kent Brockman (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45705987)

I, for one, welcome our new ice insect overlords.

Bleed Air, Not Sound (5, Interesting)

DougF (1117261) | about 4 months ago | (#45705989)

Jet fighters use bleed air to clear the windscreens, not high frequency sound. The pilot just has to remember to use it sparingly on the ground, or the windscreen melts, which most pilots agree is a bad thing...and mechanics get really ticked off replacing them. Another way to clean the windscreens is a quick shot of JP-8 from your nearby in-flight refueler (booms works best), but you didn't hear that from me...

Combine it! (4, Funny)

Wdi (142463) | about 4 months ago | (#45706061)

For maximum effect, apply JP-8 and scorching hot exhausts simultaneously!

Re:Combine it! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45706181)

Given how automated flying is these days, I don't think it's necessary for the pilot to see at all.

P.S. I say that only half in jest. Aren't you supposed to be able to land blind under IFR?

Bugs and Dirt (2)

deKernel (65640) | about 4 months ago | (#45706057)

As one who drives through regions (think the U.P. of Michigan for U.S.'ers), I am curious as to how it will "fix" the bugs getting smeared on the windscreen.

Re:Bugs and Dirt (4, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#45706167)

I am curious as to how it will "fix" the bugs getting smeared on the windscreen.

Heck I've never found a set of windshield wipers that truly solves this problem. Usually they just end up smearing bug guts all over.

puts homeless out of work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706067)

i suppose they can clean the tires at the stop light

Maintenance and upkeep? (1)

Random2 (1412773) | about 4 months ago | (#45706085)

This sounds like it could be incredibly expensive to fix/replace. What happens if one of the frequency generators goes out? Will current repair shops be able to service the vehicles? How precise does the alignment have to be? What about microfractures?

Not having to deal with water and snow would be nice, but only if it doesn't interfere with/cause more maintenance....

Ice Insects (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 4 months ago | (#45706087)

> . . . to repel water, ice insects and other debris . . .

Great. I just hate it when those ice insects hit my windshield.

Maybe you can learn something from figher tech... (2)

Wdi (142463) | about 4 months ago | (#45706093)

but passenger aircraft have very standard motorized windscreen wipers, really low tech...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pIasu8TdhA&hd=1

No. Just, no. (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 4 months ago | (#45706111)

Similar sound waves are used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth.

Having had one of these sound wave plaque removing treatments, I can assure you they do not work as well as the analog method. While the physical scraping might be less enjoyable, their results are far superior.

I'm not the only one with this opinion. Others I have spoken with say the same thing and you can use your favorite search engine to see similar comments from a multitude of people.

But just like mp3s, automatic transmissions, flappy-paddle gear changers and photography, to name just a few, the far superior analog method will eventually be replaced by the inferior method and people will think we're making progress.

Re:No. Just, no. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 4 months ago | (#45706249)

automatic transmissions, flappy-paddle gear changers

What's the difference? Any type of mechanical multi-speed transmission is a kluge. You don't find them in trains, planes, ships, power stations, etc. On the road? Get a Tesla.

Re:No. Just, no. (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 4 months ago | (#45706377)

"Inferior" and "Superior" are subjective. It might give an inferior cleaning but still be a superior product for other reasons. My Nook Color is a technically inferior product to my mother's Nexus 10, but I consider it a superior product because it costs significantly less. Likewise, my car has an inferior engine when comparing power, but it's far superior in terms of mileage. Canada may be inferior because they invented Justin Bieber, but they're actually superior because they got rid of him.

until they land (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706185)

and into the hangar they go for maintenance, with pigeon shit soon covering the entire outside surface

a $500 solution to a $10 problem. (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 4 months ago | (#45706189)

Ok so a set of replacement wipers costs me $20 at the local autoparts store. I replace my wipers once a year, and if something happens that I need to replace one, in an hour (including driving to the autoparts store) I'm all set. No special training, tools, diagnostic computers, calibrating equipment etc etc.. required.

Now I'm going to install something that when (not if) it breaks will cost me hundreds if not thousands of dollars to fix.

Let McLaren install these in their $1m cars aimed at the rich and famous. It's not like you see Ferraris and Lamborghini's driving in the rain anyhow.

Should be entertaining for some. (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 months ago | (#45706311)

In our avionics shop one prankster would set (after hooking up a concealed tweeter) the audio oscillator just above the range of normal hearing and enjoy the reactions from those who still had some of their high freq sensitivity left.
His other trick was telling noobs the black plastic urinal cup on OV-10 Broncos was an "auxiliary interphone" and having them speak into it while listening for side tone.

Clean teeth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45706667)

That is going to be useful in the UK if they make it just a little bit stronger,free dental care

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