GLAZING FOR AUTONOMOUS CARS
GLAZING FOR AUTONOMOUS CARS
This is an incredible opportunity generating an unlimited need for innovation in our market. Saint-Gobain Sekurit, a leader in automotive glazing today, is clearly set on playing a strong role in these new segments, with a focus on creating value for both end-consumers and car manufacturers ready to sustainably support this transformation.
An autonomous car will be an ultra-connected car capable of receiving loads of information and offering infotainment as well. This allows us to think that the 4 to 5 m2 of glazing present on a vehicle will be of great use.
Switching from current cars to autonomous cars will not happen overnight. The new functionalities expected will imply fundamental changes in the vehicle’s design, and it will take some time before these become operational and fully accepted by end-users.
“Glazing is not just a protective shield”
A more thoughtful transition is to imagine, in the shorter term, semi-autonomous cars where glazing will no longer be limited to the role of protective shield. In such a context, displays could be developed for a number of purposes.
For example, safety requirements will enhance the Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) sending visual warnings through the glazing that can be seen by drivers and are, more generally, visible from different angles in the vehicle. To do this, the current defined display area will have to be enlarged in order to provide regular information related to the semi-autonomous ride, starting for instance from the lower part of the windshield, then rising to the center and even the upper part.
“Unlimited possibilities for privacy, design and connectivity”
In a context where driving is no longer necessary and the car becomes a living space, connecting it to its external environment will be vital to take the car to its destination and entertain its passengers.
In fact, glass could be used for displaying all sorts of information and entertainment. Passengers will be able to lighten or darken the surface for different purposes. Hence switchable glazing technologies are expected to be widely used for privacy and screen display applications.
Changes in design and ergonomics will also be necessary. For sure, the autonomous car will need a lot of sensors, cameras and antennas to detect the environment and ensure a safe ride. Here also, glazing will play a crucial part as a vision provider to these devices and a full plug-and-play system, as the latter will be directly embedded into the glass. This will ensure both good vision and good traffic recognition.
Car-to-car and car-to-street connections, key requirements for new mobility solutions such as car sharing or localization, could be facilitated by embedding displays into the glazing. Indeed, we could easily imagine that connections between cars will make information sharing between passengers of different vehicles easier, and thus facilitate car-pooling by harmonizing the journey, gathering passengers together, etc.
“Maximum Comfort sensation, just like at home”
Glazing has always played a key role in terms of passenger comfort and well-being. Today, Saint-Gobain Sekurit solutions already make a strong contribution to interior comfort, particularly when it comes to heat and acoustics. However, in self-driving cars, the expectations regarding comfort will be greater. People will be more demanding; they will want more transparency, as well as the chance, at times, to retreat into their cosy cocoon. I mean, what’s the point of not driving if you can’t enjoy the view!
Here, the desire for comfort will be the same as feeling at home. Especially as passengers will spend their time in cars in different ways; they will do other activities such as working or relaxing. Glazing will be an intuitive and easy-to-use facilitator.
Major changes in the automotive industry are expected once self-driving cars come onto the market. With design and safety modifications offering more possibilities to the vehicle’s occupants, glazing parts will definitely play a much richer role than they do today.
In fact, glass anywhere on the vehicle could have multiple functions; new features that do not exist today on regular cars but will be crucial in autonomous mobility to enhance the driving experience. The only limit we have is our imagination.
Houchan Shoeibi, CEO of Saint-Gobain Sekurit