Car makers are always looking for the latest technology, and the windshield is not left out of that tech-savvy equation. Environmentally-friendly technology is starting to become incorporated right into the windshield. Meet the windshields of the future—some of them are already here.
Saint-Gobain Sekurit and Corning are teaming up to determine the feasibility of mass producing Corning’s Gorilla Glass®, a chemically-tempered glass much stronger than conventional automotive glass—and lighter.
Gerry Parij, international marketing manager for Saint-Gobain Sekurit, made note of the venture during a presentation on new automotive glass trends at Auto Glass Week™ in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2016. The company was interested in the glass and its potential in the industry, Parij says, because of its lightweight properties and strength.
Chemically-strengthened glass measuring a less than a half-millimeter thick, can be formed into a laminate. This reduces the windshield’s weight up to 33%, while maintaining superior strength, according to Corning’s site. Replacing normal glass with this new, lighter and thinner glass can lighten a vehicle up to 45 pounds.
Lighter Means Lower Emissions
Reduced weight translates to better gas mileage and lower emissions. This means lower fuel costs for drivers, and possibly even tax breaks for manufacturers who could avoid paying a gas guzzler tax on less-than-efficient vehicles.
“To that end, PGW and Ford have introduced the ultrathin Gorilla Glass windshield in the Ford GT,” he says. “And we are looking at going thinner, but we have to look at the tradeoff, particularly when it comes to noise.”
The lighter weight in the glass contributes to one of PGW’s approaches of controlling emissions. This can be accomplished by reducing the weight and reducing the need for air conditioning.
To accomplish the latter, the company is exploring methods of “thermal control in the cabin,” says Cavallari. PGW produces an infrared reflective glass that provides “heat rejection” to keep the interior of the vehicle cool.
Other new trends include large windshields and sunroofs. These trends can largely be attributed to manufacturing advancements which have helped produce stronger and lighter glass. Parij and Cavallari each note a growing trend of increased glass surface area.
Cavallari says he has definitely seen an upward trend in the increasing size of windshields, particularly those which extend further overhead.
Parij notes that the trend is growing towards a full glass canopy that will extend from the front of the vehicle’s cabin, to the back. However, this creates a number of other issues that must be addressed. Foremost, will be the added light. Canopy glass would need to be significantly darker than the windshield in order to promote comfort and UV protection for passengers.
Parij says there will be a “steep curve in the coming years” with regard to the synchronization required for the various elements of electronic content anticipated to come for automotive glass.
And, Parij says, some of the things we have to come expect on a windshield will go away in the years ahead.
“No cameras,” he says. “No rearview mirror. No sensors. All those sensors will be embedded into the glass.” This is all due to the trend toward autonomous vehicles.
Antennas, for example, have all but disappeared from vehicles, something PGW is working toward with its “aesthetically appealing” glass, Cavallari says.
The company has an antenna windshield that reflects solar energy and receives broadcast radio waves. The vehicle body serves as the electrical ground plane.
“We’re replacing the wires with a coating on the surface, which improves the aesthetics,” he says.
And looking ahead a few years, Cavallari predicts there will be a shift to focusing on passenger comfort rather than driver comfort, due to the rise in autonomous driving.
Will these changes be a good thing? Or Have vehicle manufacturers over complicated driving with too much technology? Let us know in the comments below.
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