It looks like the simple windscreen wiper is destined for the history books. Supercar manufacturer McLaren is developing secret plans to replace the rubber wiper with a hi-tech ultrasound device that stops anything sticking to the windscreen.
It would mean wiper arms heading down the same road as wind up windows and ashtrays as they vanish from cars.
Adapted from a similar system used on fighter jets, the proposed design is understood to centre on high frequency sound waves that effective create a force field across the windscreen preventing water, insects and mud from resting on the glass.
It would create tiny vibrations outside the range of human hearing that shake off anything debris that comes near.
McLaren is keeping its design a closely guarded secret, according to the Sunday Times, but believes it could improve vehicle efficiency by removing the weight of wiper motors.
Sound wave technology is already used in unborn baby scans and by dentists for removing plaque.
The system could be introduced in to McLaren’s range of cars, which cost from around £170,000 to £870,000, by 2015.
If successful, it is likely to be quickly adopted by mass produced cars.
Frank Stephenson, chief designer at McLaren, told the newspaper: “The windscreen wiper is an archaic piece of technology.
“We’ve had them since cars began and it’s one of the last bastions of design to overcome.”
He suggested the military had kept the technology under wraps, adding: “It took a lot of effort to get this out of a source in the military.
“I asked why you don’t see wipers on some aircraft when they are coming in at very low speeds for landing.
“I was told that it’s not a coating on the surface but a high frequency electronic system that never fails and is constantly active. Nothing will attach to the windscreen.”
Mary Anderson, an American property developer, is credited with inventing the wiper after seeing a New York tram driver struggle to see in falling sleet in 1903.
In the same year, James Henry Apjohn patented a device in the UK that saw two brushes move up and down on a glass windscreen.