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The future of the windshield wipers

Image credit: https://www.autoevolution.com/news/tesla-cybertruck-prototype-reveals-massive-windshield-wiper-in-test-track-176271.html#

J. Nikola
J. Nikola Dec 12, 2021
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Inspired by the observation of the giant wiper on Tesla's Cybertruck and the problem Elon Musk tweeted about recently, I started this session to collaboratively find the best solution for the future windshield wipers!
As described in this post, people and Elon himself explained the worries behind the wipers for the giant windshield on his Cybertruck.
Can we find a better way how Elon could remove water from Cybertruck's windshield?
Creative contributions

A long, thin, horizontal wiper

Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 12, 2021
Maybe it's just an impression I get from looking at the pictures of the cybertruck, but it seems that the windshield glass is very straight, it has no to very little oval curvature. The inclination angle also seems less steep than in the case of most cars. This seems like a perfect case for using a horizontal wiper which would stretch from one side of the glass to the other and wipe the glass by moving up and down. Here's what I mean:
The wiper could reside in the bottom of the windshield, if it was thin enough, it wouldn't look unaesthetically. The tracks on which it runs would be installed in the sides of the window frame. The rest of the mechanism could be hidden under the front trunk or even in the interior of the car, near the dashboard.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola7 months ago
Great idea! I would suggest putting the wiper on top of the windshield so that it pushes the water down. If it resides on the bottom, then every time it wipes, it first pushes the water up, letting it drip back to the windshield again.
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Povilas S
Povilas S7 months ago
Juranium That's true, but then it might not look good (=the same problem as with the giant side wiper). If it was in the bottom it could be hardly noticeable, especially if the truck was black. I'm not sure if pushing the water up initially would constitute a problem, the conventional wipers also push water up at first, while rising.
If it turned out to be a problem, then the wiper could rise a bit off the glass, not to touch it while being lifted upwards and only be pressed to the glass at the top, before going down. But if this was done only once, then it seems it wouldn't make much difference, cause it still would have to go up and down often (imagine heavy rain), so then it would have to do this rising without being pressed to the glass every time and this would slow down the wiping, but again, for me, it's not clear if the upward movement would cause a problem.
At least some of the water would definitely be pushed to the sides of the wiper and drip off from there, not back on the glass. For it to end up back on the glass it would have to "roll over" the wiper, maybe the shape of the wiper could help to reduce this, it seems like making a groove in the middle could work.
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Using a Hydrophilic Material Paired with an Osmosis-like Process to Draw Water Away from the Windshield

Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi Dec 15, 2021
What if we coat the windshield with a hydrophilic material. We can then pair this with a mechanism that pulls the water away from different parts of the windshield to its bottom where it is then expelled.
This way, there won't be any need for a windshield wiper.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
This, paired with Dyson style bladeless fan, blowing in synchronized motion from openings all around the windshield. It starts concentrated to the bottom and then goes upwards over the roof. It blows the strongest where it's concentrated and eases up elsewhere on the windshield real estate. By concentrating power, we can reach every bit of the windshield as necessary.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola6 months ago
Hmm, very interesting thought. I heard people want to use hydrophobic material to prevent water droplets from attaching to the glass, but I still haven't heard someone wants to use hydrophilic materials.
Can you maybe describe this principle in more detail? I understand it would be a hydrophilic coating, like some transparent gel or something, right? How would you then remove the water to prevent the material from "filling" with water or becoming "soaky"?
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Oguntola Tobi
Oguntola Tobi6 months ago
I've been doing some reading online to find something that can describe what I see in my head in detail but I haven't had much success. However, you are on track. The idea is to have a form of transparent gel that can trap water immediately it falls on the windshield.
Then, somewhere along the bottom of the windshield, there should be a device that draws the trapped water out of the gel. I was thinking in terms of an engineering version of osmosis. The device can adapt osmosis: it will contain solvent with a high concentration and a semi-permeable membrane that separates it from the rest of the gel. Consequently, it will draw the water in the gel into itself.
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Using electricity to change the refractive index of water on the windshield

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Dec 17, 2021
We cannot see through a wet windshield because light refracts when it passes through water. Moreover, since water on the windshield is fragmented (in the form of droplets and streams), multiple refracting elements are created.
What if we use a slightly charged windshield to align the water molecules that fall on it? The alignment will correct the refractive index of water (which is 1.3) and make it equal to that of glass (windshield, which is 1.5). Electricity changes the orientation of the molecules of the substance through which it passes, thus, changing the refractive index. This article summarizes the theory pretty well.
The problem is finding a cheap material that is transparent and can conduct electricity to construct the windshield.
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General comments

Spook Louw
Spook Louw7 months ago
This session connects nicely with this session for self-cleaning solar panels and in particular, perhaps, my contribution regarding F1 helmet visors. Working together we might be able to find three solutions/ideas at the same time by approaching this problem from three different angles.
The problem could then be defined as "finding the most effective/efficient way to clean panels", each of us might need a different solution to meet our specifications, depending on whether the panels are on solar energy generators, windshields or helmet visors, but the different ideas and approaches that have been used in these three distinct variations of the problem might lead to inspiration or breakthrough for the others.
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