Windshield wipers have come a long way since Mary Anderson patented her “window cleaning device” that had to be hand-cranked via a lever within the car on November 10, 1903. And, while modern wipers use electrical motors, (some automatically activate by sensing water on the glass), the basic concept has not changed, until now.
After 110 years of depending on rubber blades attached to metal arms, McLaren Automotive is seeking to replace them by equipping windshields with ultrasonic sensors that will automatically “vibrate” rain and debris off the windshields based on a design first dreamed up by a Japan in 1988, but never put into commercial practice due to problems involving how to get it to work clean off ice, as well as mud and bird droppings, etc. They are, however, used on military planes.
"It took a lot of effort to get this out of a source in the military. McLaren design director Frank Stephenson told The Sunday Times in a recent interview. “I asked why you don't see wipers on some aircraft when they are coming in at very low levels for landing, and was told that they use a high frequency electronic system that never fails and is constantly active. Nothing will attach to the windscreen."
He is now seeking way to incorporate it for McLaren’s sports cars, noting that, not only would they be less distracting to drivers traveling at high speeds, but could also improve fuel economy by allowing engineers to reduce weight by eliminating the motors used to power wipers, as well as give the cars, themselves, a sleeker, more aerodynamic look