Windscreen wipers were invented by Mary Anderson, an American property developer, during a trip to New York City. The heavy rain during the trip made Mrs. Anderson realize that a device was needed to keep drivers from having to roll down their windows to see outside in bad weather. In 1903 she patented a window cleaning device which consisted of a swinging arm attached to a rubber blade operated via a lever inside the car. By 1916 this invention became standard in almost all automobiles.
McLaren has decided that it is time to replace the century-old technology with something more futuristic. The Surrey-based Formula One firm is replacing the conventional windscreen wiper with an ultrasonic forcefield. The idea is adapted from military technology used in fighter aircraft which prevents any particles from accumulating on the screen’s surface and maintain visibility. McLaren is being secretive and not providing any details on the technology or how it will implemented in their future supercars, claiming that they do not want any rivals to steal the technology.
As far as the experts can tell, the technology is based on the following principle: a high frequency (around 30 kHz) sound wave will cause the whole windshield to vibrate, giving it an ultrasonic forcefield which will prevent mud, snow, rain and even bugs from coming into contact with the glass. Chief designer Frank Stephenson says that this technology will not only improve visibility in any kind of weather, but also improve the aerodynamics of the car (a very important feature for supercars).
With the scarcity of any details, it is hard to say when the technology will be used on McLaren cars. There are rumors that the new technology will be used in McLaren’s next new supercar, which is expected to roll off the production line in 2015. Besides the replacement of the windshield wiper, the car company is working on many other technologies for road cars that will be revealed to the public with the passage of time. Fingers crossed till then!