Force Field Could Replace Windshield Wipers
A force field made from high-frequency sound waves could repel material from the windshield.
Auto shows are great for getting a glimpse into the future of the car market but, unfortunately, the coolest, most imaginative, most innovative concepts and designs often remain on the drawing board. Indeed, the automotive industry is a tough business and there’s only a small segment of the market willing or able to splurge on limited-production ultra-luxury cars. So, here are six futuristic concept cars we wish we could buy right now.
The ultimate litmus test for whether or not you’re living in the future is whether or not there are flying cars zipping through the skies. Well, here’s some good news: We’re getting really close. The TF-X from Terrafugia (pictured) will be a street legal plug-in hybrid car that has collapsible wings, retractable propellers, and is capable of driving and flying on its own in the event of an emergency.
Let’s face it: Electric cars are the future. There will, inevitably, be a time in which fossil fuels are too expensive and precious to waste on grocery store runs. In the meantime, however, super-efficient gas-powered vehicles will be a trend. And this is one trend that can’t catch on soon enough.
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Sure, steampunk has become a popular aesthetic amongst sci-fi aficionados, but could steam-powered cars really play a role in the future of transportation? It’s a long shot, but in a future where efficiency and fuel conservation are primary concerns, odd alternatives like steam could play a role.
Smartphone on Wheels
Increasingly, car companies are working to close the gap between the technology on the road and the technology in our pockets—but they still have a long way to go. Concepts like the Toyota Fun-Vii, however, show a glimmer of that interactive, intelligent, driving future.
Everyone loves the growl of a powerful super car, but we all have to admit that one design does not suit every application. Life in a city, or habitual short-trip driving demands a very different vehicle than, certainly, the race track. This growing use case presents different requirements, though, than even the majority of sedans. Microcars are a smart solution to these real-world problems.
Is McLaren about to do away completely with windshield wipers? According to comments made by the sports car manufacturer’s chief designer, that may just be the case.
Speaking recently with the Sunday Times (via CarsUK), Frank Stephenson said his employer is developing a system that can repel material from a windshield by creating a force field using high-frequency sound waves.
Such systems were originally created by the military for use on fighter jets.
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.
Benefits of the system are said to be improved visibility, since debris would be repelled instantly, as well as improved aerodynamic efficiency, due to less drag. It would also mean no more days of having to remove ice from the windshield in northern climates, or at least that’s the thinking.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on when we might see the system fitted to one of McLaren’s cars. Note, this isn’t the first time Stephenson has mentioned the system. During a previous interview with YouTube channel Drive, Stephenson not only talked about wiper-less windshields but also color-changing exterior panels, glowing interiors and shape-changing memory materials.
The windscreen wiper has been around since 1903, and its basic design hasn’t changed much since inventor Mary Anderson came up with the idea. She was inspired to create a ‘window cleaning device’ after she saw drivers sticking their heads out of the car window to see where they were going during heavy rain.
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