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And You Thought It Was Just A Piece Of Glass

And You Thought It Was Just A Piece Of Glass

The late 19th Century and all of the 20th Century saw the motor car develop from a clever contraption to an object of desire. For much of that period the car had some form of windscreen. In the 21st Century it is technology that has been at the forefront of car design and it has crept quietly into most aspects of the cars we drive today.

We’ve got hybrids and EVs, connectivity and something called ‘infotainment’. Gizmos abound. Now the high-tech future has made it into the that plain old sheet of glass that protects us from the wind and rain as we drive.

Right now, Low E glass technology is being developed for windscreens. This is apparently an insulating technology designed to control temperature variations within the car, allowing the interior to remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Already we have heads-up displays, increasingly being found on in modern cars. Information such as speed, routes, pedestrian alerts and warning signals can all be projected onto the windscreen, directly in line with the driver’s field of vision. OK, this is just projection but it gets better.

All kinds of sensors are now being implemented into windscreens to make it easier for drivers to concentrate on the road. Rain sensors allow for automatic detection of rain and snow and the like, activating and adjusting the speed of the wipers accordingly. Other new sensors being implemented include light sensors that can automatically turn on headlights once external lighting conditions start to become dim, and humidity sensors which detect humidity levels and adjust temperatures to prevent misting of the windscreen.

Some windscreens are now featuring an advanced lane departure warning system. A camera, mounted at the top centre of the windscreen can automatically detect when the vehicle is straying from its lane and an alert will sound to notify the driver. Certainly, this technology is incorporated into wind shields but, as above, it continues to get better still.

Companies have now developed ways to incorporate antennas into glass, replacing the old telescoping or shark-fin design. Noise can also be reduced through a special glass laminating process. This is designed to reduce engine and road noise as well as wind noise and vibration. Driver and passenger comfort levels should improve with better acoustic performance of the windscreen.

New technologies in the windscreen wipers will also eliminate frozen and uneven wipers. A special wiper heater should see the wiper blades remain pliable and fully functional, even in sub-zero conditions, with some models even activating while the car is switched off. This stuff would have been considered science-fiction not so many years ago.

The windscreen is something we take for granted but it is now becoming more than just a piece of glass. These improvements to windscreen design will only make it easier and safer to be on our roads, but with car technology advancing in such leaps and bounds, one has to wonder, how long before the glass does our ‘seeing’ for us? The mind boggles.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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