The windscreen wiper is dead. Or, at least, on the way out if you’ve read the latest news. Is there anything else you think car manufacturers should ditch as well?
British supercar and F1 supremo McLaren is working on a windscreen clearing system that will make old fashioned wipers obsolete.
It is likely to use high frequency sound waves to create a force field that will bounce water off the screen. Apparently it will work in a similar way to the tool a dentist uses to blast plaque off our teeth, and may be being adapted from systems already used on fighter jets.
It all sounds rather StarTrek-ish to me, but when you consider that the humble rubber strips on our car windscreens are actually 110 years old (American property developer Mary Anderson invented the manual windscreen wiper in 1903), then it’s high time they were reconciled to the archives.
Consigning car tech to history
That got me thinking about the other motoring-related items that have been consigned to the great big rubbish bin in the sky. I applaud the passing of many of them, in particular:
1. The manual choke. I have (not -too-fond) memories of using clothes pegs to keep the manual choke out on my ancient Morris Minor on icy-cold early morning drives.
2. Carburettors. Having to regularly manually reset the carbs on various old motors was a real chore that I never relished.
3. Tape players. The hours spent rewinding the tape back into a cassette with a pencil after it spewed out, and the remains of cassettes strewn around the countryside with tape flapping about in the wind – two good reasons why it’s good tape decks have died.
Things we need back
However, that doesn’t apply to everything that’s been lost. Spare wheels are the most obvious item I’d rather we kept fitted to cars.
And having just had a drive in the latest version of my six-year-old car, I have discovered that not all new tech is as easy to live with as the systems they replace.
The touchscreen multimedia system on the latest Nissan Note looks good, but it’s more time-consuming and complicated to do things. I’m talking about changing the radio station or switching off advanced safety systems like lane assist – a simple button for each of these would be so much better than having to navigate a sub-menu.
Looking to the future, we expect more cars to gain touchscreen technology, and become more integrated with things like smartphones. Let’s hope the designers work hard to ensure these ‘advances’ aren’t really a step backwards in convenience for motorists.
Are there some car things you’d like to be rid of, or are there things you think we should have kept? Will you miss windscreen wipers?