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Ultrasonic Windshield "Wiper"

Wipers are so 20th century
  [vote for,

While not an overly big deal, any driver knows that windshield wipers can be a pita. It can be drizzling out enough to effect vision but not actually "raining" and the wipers will make an annoying squeek. When wipers are reaching the end of their useful life, it is always made apparent by their decreasing efficacy (and usually streaks left behind). When it's obvious theyre no longer effective, it means another trip to the local Autozone; which as mentioned is another merely minor inconvenience. But nonetheless, I think it could be easier.

Ultrasonic transducers vaporize most, if not all, liquids they come into contact with, because the liquid medium "tries" to follow the rapidly moving sound waves and vaporizes instead. Mount a somewhat powerful stationary transducer (even very powerful transducers do not consume much energy, fyi) somewhere on the windshield, and I figure you could instantly vaporize any rain, snow, etc that would come into contact with it. Youd probably still need a backup wiper for snow, some instances of dirt, etc. But overal, this would certainly be a simpler, cheaper, probably more effective alternative to the archaic sweeping wiper. Also, ultrasonic transducers are used as cleaning devices by literally vibrating dust and dirt particulates off of a surface and into a liquid. Thus, except for cases of major vision impairment from dirt (getting mud all over a windshield from offroading for example), I feel that this would still retain the ability to remove dirt and etc. Thus, this device would retain nearly all functionality of a wiper while eliminating all of the inconveniences of wiper maintenence.

Note: the ultrasonic functioning is not limited to a stationary transducer and could also be applied to existing wiper blades to aid in ice, rain, dirt removal and etc to improve functioning and increase longevity.

acurafan07, Jun 01 2012

First link on Google for "Ultrasonic windshield wiper" http://www.google.com/patents/US4768256
Doesn't atomize, rather produces directional frictional motivation. [Freefall, Jun 04 2012]

In the oven at McLaren http://editorial.au...und?icid=autos_5092
Sorry about the link, but the source article at thesundaytimes.co.uk crashes. [scad mientist, Dec 16 2013]


       Clarification query: would this set up the ultrasonic frequency within the windshield glass itself, or overlay it somehow? I can envision problems with the former.
Alterother, Jun 01 2012

       I'm afraid ultrasonic would be far too slow, and would simply evaporate the liquid while leaving the solids behind.   

       Howabout a constant high-pressure stream like those 'airblade' dryers?
RayfordSteele, Jun 01 2012

       [RayfordSteele] I'm not so sure about that; one of the drawbacks of ultrasonic humidifiers vs steam is that the steam ones leave solid particulates behind (albeit crusting up the unit) while the water evaporates, whereas with ultrasonic units, the solid particulates vaporize along with the water; thus creating potential health risks.   

       The high pressure stream you mentioned was actually a feature on the prototype/pre-production version of the 2004 Acura TL. Somehow never made it to production.   

       [Alterother], I was indeed thinking overlay. Since glass is very rigid and has good acoustic properties, placing a powerful enough transducer in contact with the rear of the windshield (inside the vehicle; say, mounted right in front of the rear view miror out of sight) would distribute the waves evenly across.
acurafan07, Jun 01 2012

       It's a good idea, but I would be concerned about harmonic build-up at the corners and loosening of the seals around the glass. This is just my gut thinking; I don't know much about the technical details of this sort of thing. It's just that the structural fabricator in me always starts pondering over stress points and material integrity.
Alterother, Jun 01 2012

       Didn't Bond James Bond use an ultrasonic window- cleaning ring in The World Is Not Another Day? I seem to remember it cracked the glass, though.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 01 2012

       If the glass were sufficiently heated - to 150 C - by embedded elements, the rain would just flash off as steam; and as rain has (in theory) no dissolved solids, there should be no residue.
8th of 7, Jun 01 2012

       ...and it would be quite hot inside the cabin of the vehicle, and anyone accidentally touching either side of the windshield would receive virtually instant 2nd-degree burns, and...   

       BTW, [acura]: sp. Ultrasonic, in the title. Just noticed it.
Alterother, Jun 01 2012

       //rain has (in theory) no dissolved solids//   

       Rain is generally pretty filthy stuff. By the time it reaches your windscreenshield, it has hoovered up all the dirt and pollen from a raindrop-diameter column of air several thousand feet high.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 01 2012

       [8th of 7] Yes, but the power draw would be akin to that of a windshield-sized stovetop.   

       One of the benefits of this is that even a powerful enough transducer for this type of application would draw require very little energy; probably even a little bit less than most wiper motors.
acurafan07, Jun 02 2012

       Ultrasonic atomization. It is in essence a way to vaporize liquids without the need to undergo an endothermic phase change (though tiny cavitations within the liquid can reach thousands of degrees C and have been researched for possible nuclear fusion purposes, but I digress). To be more clear, there is no required heat input whatsoever.   

       My "magical vaporization" device would draw, as mentioned, only the required energy to produce a high-frequency sound wave with large enough amplitude.
acurafan07, Jun 02 2012

       I'd be happier to see something that kept bugs off my windscreen. I'm sick of peering through dried grasshopper guts.
UnaBubba, Jun 02 2012

       Better to eliminate the windshield altogether and replace it with a sideways-flowing hypersonic Laminar-flow air sheet? Wipers not needed.
sqeaketh the wheel, Jun 02 2012

       Fine until the semi trailer in front of you sheds a retread and machete-sized chunks of steel-belted radial come flying through your laminar air sheet. I'll stick with a solid barrier, thank you.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       That hypersonic air sheet is nice until you decide to point at something and lose a hand.
Freefall, Jun 04 2012

       ...or when the vehicle is off and it's raining outside/snowing/a bird decides to let loose/etc.
acurafan07, Jun 04 2012

       So I think we're agreed that this is a good idea, but not good enough to do away with the glass entirely.
Alterother, Jun 04 2012

       I suspect you wouldn't even need the ultrasonics to go so far as to vaporize the water. The vibration should reduce droplet adhesion, allowing it to flow off more readily. (I think, maybe, possibly, kind of.)   

       The alternative is that it increases wetting by breaking the surface tension, but even then a uniformly wet window is easier to see through than droplets.
MechE, Jun 04 2012

       I use Aquapel on our windshields. Over 60 mph wipers are not necessary and below that not much either. One application lasts for about 6 months to a year. The only catch is that you have to clean the windshield very thoroughly before you apply it.   

       Sometimes it's a little tricky to get retail; I don't know why.
jmvw, Jun 04 2012

       I did manage to get all the way from Bristol to Bath just by stopping and clearing off the windscreen with towel (Ford Sierra, everything broke at least once).   

       What's really needed is a two layer graphene windscreen, with a variable gap, narrower in the middle, and a heat source.   

       Heat the windscreen(s) to about 2000 degrees and get a thrust inducing ramjet effect at just above walking speed*.   

       Rain on the windscreen becomes a thing of the past, along with colliding insects, pigeons, small children, parking tickets et al and matching asbestos driving gloves and steering wheels would be all the rage. <start trying to source on Ali Baba>   

       *Assuming you can walk very quickly, that is.
not_morrison_rm, Jun 06 2012

       Thanks [lee_rimar]. I was trying to dredge up the memory of which AC Clarke story had that bit in it.
AusCan531, Mar 04 2013

       Almost baked. See link.
scad mientist, Dec 16 2013


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