My Life in Cars - March 2020

by Dick Potter

Mon, 02 March 2020

My Life in Cars march 2020

Dick Potter examines the latest tech making our car journeys safer.

My mate Elon, a certain Mr Musk, filed a patent for high-tech windscreen wipers that clean a car’s windshield by burning off dirt and debris using laser beams. The patent, recently filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, notes the inefficiency of traditional windscreen wipers – good to see I’m not alone then. Windscreen wipers are typically unable to reach every part of a screen, to say nothing of their longevity; I’m convinced they rot away during the summer months of non-use and car-wash chaps messing with them.

The patent also claims that the process of removing dirt with water and soap results in “unproductive time” spent while waiting for the glass to dry. Hmmm, indeed.

The “pulsed laser cleaning” system would be set up in such a way that it does not damage the retinas of the vehicle’s occupants, or other bits that might be damaged by a high-intensity beam of light. The cleaning apparatus may be installed as a modular device in a vehicle and provide a contactless means to clean different glass articles, for example windshields, in-vehicle camera lenses, side windows, rear-view mirrors and the like. How interesting. Furthermore, the end of the ubiquitous car-wash chaps perhaps?

Now, imagine you are approaching an intersection as another vehicle jumps the light? I know — difficult to imagine that happening in our neck of the woods, right?! You don’t see them at first, but your car gets a signal from the other car that it’s directly in your path and warns you of the potential collision, or even applies the brakes automatically to avoid an accident. Good news, a developing technology called Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication, or V2V, is being tested by vehicle manufacturers such as Ford as a way to help reduce the number of accidents on the roads. 

V2V works by using wireless signals to send information back and forth between cars about their location, speed and direction. The information is then communicated to the cars around in order to provide information on how to keep the vehicles at safe distances from each other. This is going to be a brilliant addition to new cars once it takes off. Another exciting development is night vision. OK, not hugely essential on our well-lit island, but driving at night is often hazardous. Travelling down dark roads or unfamiliar roads can be quite a scary challenge – my missus lives in the sticks in Ireland – believe me, I speak from experience. Cars with night vision will be able to alert the driver to objects, people or animals that aren’t readily visible to the naked eye. Thermal imaging provides drivers with the information needed on what lies ahead. 

With car technology and technology in general having developed so quickly in the past 10 years or so, we can surely look forward to even further innovations in the motor industry. These technologies will transform the way we drive and increase automotive safety dramatically. The good news is that car companies and governments are already working to make this a reality.