New Developments in Windshield Technology in 2020
Technology is constantly pushing the automotive industry forward. Innovation has always been a fundamental part of car design and manufacturing since the very beginning. Now, as we begin a new year, it’s interesting to look at some of the advanced features which we are seeing on new luxury car models launched this year. Plus, we are anticipating some exciting new developments related to windshields and car glass in 2019.
Specifically, we wanted to highlight panoramic windshields, the use of electrochromic glass, heated front windshields and the development of wiper-less windshields.
Lead by CEO Elon Musk, Tesla has been making headlines in recent years for innovation in the car industry. The cutting-edge Tesla Model X made waves when it hit the market and one of the most noted features was the panoramic windshield. It’s considered the largest all-glass windshield available today, spanning 31 square feet of surface area. Stretching out overhead the driver and passenger, past the standard roofline, it provides nearly uninhibited visibility.
The concept behind the panoramic glass was to combine a windshield with a sunroof to create a cockpit for Tesla drivers. It’s easy to see the road and everything outside of the car, plus the interior is full of natural light. Yet occupants aren’t blinded when they look up to the sky, because Tesla engineers have included solar tinting which darkens the glass when the sunlight is stronger.
Will future Tesla models continue to push the envelope with panoramic windshields? There’s a good chance. Preview images of the all-new Tesla Model Y, which is expected to be launched to the market in 2020, show that it will likely also have a panoramic windshield.
Smart Car Glass
Automotive innovation often involves applying technology developed in other industries. In the case of electrochromic glass, also known as smart glass, advanced glazing techniques have been borrowed from commercial building suppliers. McLaren, the British luxury sports car manufacturer, has installed electrochromic glass on the roof and upper part of the door windows in the Speedtail Hyper-GT model. The all-new Hyper-GT is expected to go into production in 2019 and be delivered next year.
Smart glass will enable the driver to limit the amount of sunlight coming into the vehicle with the touch of a button. Special solar films inserted between layers of the windshield laminate make it electronically controlled. The transparency of the glass changes to filter out more or less light. The driver will be able to incrementally adjust the tint in the windshield and side windows.
Smart glass is an advantageous feature. While visibility increases and driving becomes safer because of decreased glare, passengers are also more comfortable. Both benefit from ample natural light, while tinting will result in reduced energy use for air conditioning within the car. The special glass should also help decrease the solar effect and heat inside the car while parked.
For the future, engineers predict that these types of smart glass windshields will get smarter. As automation advances, drivers will no longer need to respond to environmental factors. You won’t have to flip down the visor when glare from the sun impairs your vision. The windshield glass will automatically darken as the light outside the car gets brighter. This technology will help make driving even safer.
Heated Front Windshields
Some car brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land Rover, have recently released new car models with heated front windshields. A heated front windshield is ideal for Pennsylvania winters because it’s able to defog and defrost faster than standard types.
This special glass works like a heated rear windshield, but doesn’t have the black lines that are usually visible. Because a clear field of vision is the biggest concern with windshields, automotive engineers have found a way to make the heating component practically disappear. The Jaguar F-Pace SUV, for example, has a network of thin, translucent wiring sandwiched between two layers of laminate in the windshield. The heating wires inside the glass are only slightly visible, but they don’t inhibit or decrease the driver’s view.
As of 2019, this McLaren concept is still in the works, but we’re hoping that it will soon become a reality. The company has been developing a windshield that won’t need wipers to clear away rain and snow. Their team has gained technical information from the military on how to make an ultrasonic force that would cause moisture slide immediately off the glass. By applying high-frequency sound waves to the surface, the car would automatically have a clear windshield all the time. Hopefully, this concept will be available to car buyers soon as it would offer a more convenient, safer and aerodynamic solution for clearing windshields.