When you're driving on a rainy highway, the sudden windshield-covering splashes created by passing transport trucks can be pretty unnerving. You can of course quickly flip your wipers up to High – your car's rain sensor may even do it for you – but Sweden's Semcon has developed a system that is claimed to react even faster. An important consideration, when travelling at highway speeds.
Known as ProActive Wipers (PAW), the system is actually a computer program that could be installed on newer vehicles – no hardware upgrades are necessary. Instead, it utilizes the car's existing forward-facing camera, its radar, and its rain sensor.
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The camera is used to identify large trucks that are either approaching from the other direction, or that the driver is about to pass. The radar is then used to determine how far away that truck is, and how quickly the gap between it and the driver's car is closing. For its part, the rain sensor confirms that the conditions are wet, and thus that splashing is a possibility.
When the software determines that a soaking is imminent, it automatically switches the windshield wipers on to High. This starts before any water actually hits the glass. By contrast, rain sensors alone typically only activate the wipers once water has been detected on the windshield.
Semcon has reportedly tested PAW in real-world driving conditions, and is now refining the technology. It hopes to have a market-ready version completed within a year, which automakers could then incorporate into their vehicles.