Windshields, like most modern day items, are becoming much more innovative than ever before. They are still serving their main purpose which contribute to safety, design, and sophistication, however in the upcoming years we are going to see a transition to this particular part of the vehicle that we have never seen before. Modern day windshields are begin fabricated with stronger, thinner, and more lightweight materials. This allows the glass to become strong enough to support the structural role, but still lightweight so that manufacturers can abide by the strict CAFE standards set forth by congress.
- Headlights and sun visors will become extinct.
Windshields already contain a rain sensor, which will activate wiper blades when water is detected. They also will change speed on their own depending on how hard it is precipitating. The laminated layer between the two panes of glass also leaves more potential for other innovations. In the future we will see the same photochromic dyes used in transition vision lenses, baked into the windshield. Engineers are also working with nano technologies to incorporate military style night vision capabilities using thermal imaging. This would allow drivers to see in the dark without the use of any lighting whatsoever.
- Vehicle communications
Manufacturers are looking to adapt solar panel technology directly into the vehicle. This will not only power hybrids and certain electronics throughout the vehicle, but also will replace alternators for charging batteries and supply the power the vehicle needs for new services. They will do this by developing a thin layer of photovoltaic cells covering the hood, roof and trunk, or flatbed. Another development car manufacturers are working on is vehicle to vehicle communication. This would involve vehicle to cloud uploading and data sharing which would enable cars to talk with each other sharing information such as road closures and detours, accident sights, traffic bottlenecks, and other road hazards.
- Heads up display
Windshields will begin to display 3D images, much like the way back up cameras can display guidelines for driving in reverse. The best thing about this addition is that the driver’s eyes will never have to leave the road. Heads up displays will be integrated into this technology which will allow drivers to access critical information beyond just speed and outside temperature. Smart windshields will be able to incorporate a number of safety features such as issuing alerts for close obstacles like pedestrians or cyclists, safe braking distances, GPS guidance , and weather and traffic updates. Another safety feature rolling out in some vehicles is eye-tracking, which is intelligence gathered by observing the driver’s eye movements. A self-driving vehicle will be able to interpret if a driver has fallen asleep and will guide the car safely off the road.
- Sensors and cameras in and around the glass
Within a few years we will see sensors and mini cameras become standard safety equipment, beyond the early adaptation we’ve seen in luxury vehicles. Basic sensors today already alert drivers of passing vehicles entering into the blind spot. Other advanced driver assistance systems include lane departure warning alerts, auto correction to keep the tires inside lane markers, and collision avoidance. These are all small incremental steps on our way towards fully autonomous vehicles.
- Say goodbye to wiper blades
A new system, developed by Italian designer Leonardo Fioravanti, self cleans and repels water away from the windshield. The new system eliminates the need for wiper blades through the use of advanced nanotechnology and aerodynamic principles that combine to ensure constant clear visibility for drivers. McLaren is also testing a technique of using a high-frequency electronic system that pumps sound waves through the windshield, effectively creating a vibrating ultrasonic force field that deflects water, mud, and even bugs.