Car rain sensors are smart things. The most common ones work using an infrared beam that is directed onto the windshield from inside the car. When the glass is wet, less light is bounced back to the sensor, which triggers the wipers turning on.
However, they don’t work in every scenario.
“Most of us have experienced that scary moment when you’re trying to overtake a heavy truck on the highway under wet conditions,” Magnus Carlsson, head of autonomous driving at Swedish tech product development company Semcon, told Digital Trends. “When that happens, you sometimes get a splash on your windscreen, and it obscures your vision for a period of time. That’s something today’s car rain sensors can’t do anything about. They only act when they detect there’s water already on the windshield.”
What Semcon has developed is a new piece of software for windshield wipers called ProActive Wipers (PAW). Using the camera, radar and rain sensors built into most modern cars, it figures out when large vehicles present a risk for sudden water splashes and gets your wipers ready. The camera detects possible threats and the radar figures out proximity, with the combined information then switching your wipers to maximum speed in advance.
The result? No more terrifying moment of blindness when your windshield is obscured by water.
“If it’s raining hard already, it’s not such a problem because you have the wipers activated,” Carlsson, who invented the technology, continued. “The best use-case for this would be if it’s been raining and isn’t anymore, or it’s raining slightly, but the road is still very wet. That’s when you can run into problems.”
The feature has already been evaluated under real conditions and the software could easily be implemented in today’s cars — provided a company is interested in adopting the smart tech. You’re unlikely to see this technology arrive for at least the next year, but it’s a feature we eagerly anticipate.
In the meantime, we’ll make sure to drive extra vigilantly on wet days.
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