Shields Up! McLaren Developing Force Fields to Replace Windshield Wipers

Posted on December 17, 2013 11:00 AM by J.D. Kane

McLaren, one of the most esteemed names in automotive history, is said to be applying a bit of science fiction in its future road cars.

According to multiple sources, McLaren is developing a system of “force fields” that will do away with the need for windshield wipers.

Frank Stephenson, the company’s chief designer, has dropped hints at how these so-called “force fields” are supposed to work. Ultrasound generators are to send 30kHz waves across the surface of the windshield, thereby keeping the glass free of water, snow, debris, even those pesky insects that smash into the windshield. Plus you get the side benefit of never ever having those stupid flyers stuck under your car’s wipers ever again!

McLaren Lineup Graphic

If this sounds like too much science fiction, think again. Stephenson said the idea is actually one that the military has already deployed. He didn’t care to elaborate further, however.

How soon can this technology be applied to road cars? If McLaren can make such a system work on road cars (and there’s no reason to believe it can’t, since it’s already a functional technology, albeit just on military hardware for now), it may just be a couple of years before other automotive companies license the tech from McLaren and adopt it on their high-end vehicles. Give it a decade or so, and who knows? It may eventually trickle down to even the most prosaic cars on the road.

  • Matthew Harris

    You’ll be able to tell when one of their cars is in the area because all the local dogs will go berserk.

    • Rob Williams


  • Tom Roeder

    I am just curious as to EFI, what would this affect? Sometimes when ignition coils go bad they start spewing spurious emissions (I have no idea what frequency range) that can affect other systems in weird ways. I guess everything in the car would have to be well shielded(probably already is in a McLaren). But what about cars passing by? It is a cool technology, I would love to see how it goes.

    • Jamie Fletcher

      The 30KHz range wouldn’t cause issues with surroundings really, the
      amplitude would diminish rapidly, since it’s still technically sound and
      not Radio. If you have any switch-mode power supplies or PWM fan
      controllers, they operate at the same or higher frequencies; dozens of
      those devices all next to each other (like your PC), don’t really affect
      each other.

  • Tom Roeder

    Actually now that I think about it, 30khz is probably not high enough to bother much of anything, maybe at close proximity, but probably not.

  • Jamie Fletcher

    Piezoelectric emitters in each corner of the windscreen, some control circuits – I’m sure something like this could be emulated very cost-effectively for the average consumer. My guess is getting the amplitude high enough to make the pulses effective… the second concern is fixing the wind-shield in place without the ultrasonics destroying the rubber mounts.

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