Think of it as VTEC for your windscreen wipers.
As we move to a world of electrification, the aerodynamic efficiency of motorcars is being taken to new heights with incremental adaptations yielding exponential results. Not only do these make commuter cars like the Honda Civic lighter on gas, but performance cars handle high speeds better, so everyone wins when a major step forward is taken.
Now, CarBuzz has discovered a new Honda patent filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which aims to reduce aerodynamic drag even further by creating smoother glasshouses devoid of unnecessary kinks.
Rain gutters flanking the windshield have long been the bane of every car designer. They exist to redirect the water collected by the windscreen wipers away from the side windows and over the car's roof, but the better they work, the larger their effect on a vehicle's aerodynamic drag tends to be. Removing them results in water streaming down your side windows with reckless abandon. Honda has, however, fixed the issue.
Traditional windshield side gutters usually work admirably well in wet conditions but serve no purpose in the dry and only disrupt smooth airflow around the car's cockpit. So what would happen if you could remove the rain gutters when they're not needed and only deploy them when it is actually wet outside?
According to the patent, the system uses two wipers that both pivot from the outer lower corners of the windshield, and each one of them incorporates a separate secondary arm. Both wipers, along with their secondary arms, are hidden below the hood's trailing edge when not in use, allowing the windshield's outer edges to sit perfectly flush with their adjacent roof pillars to reduce aerodynamic drag.
When the wipers are activated, the first wipe sees both wiper arms and their attached secondary arms move to the outer edges of the windshield. At their turning point, the secondary arms disengage from the primary arms, lodging firmly in place between the windshield and front roof pillars as long as the wipers are activated. This leaves a physical barrier between the windshield and the car's side windows that guides water up the windshield and over the roof, keeping the side windows clear of water streaks.
Turn the wipers off, and the wiper arms will pick up these secondary arms or mobile gutters before returning to their resting position and hiding the whole lot below the hood.
Some may call it exceedingly complex, but in the pursuit of perfect vehicular efficiency, the littlest details can compound to make the biggest difference. Combining this tech with active aero rear spoilers and retractable side skirts could see hypermiling Honda EVs of the future become shapeshifting pillars of efficiency. While we doubt this will come to fruition in the immediate future, Honda's American-built EVs resulting from the partnership between Honda and Sony could easily adopt variations of this tech in the pursuit of the perfect commuter EV.