JAGUAR Land Rover (JLR) is working on a rear-window wiper that is activated when the driver looks in the rear-view mirror. A patent filed in America describes a camera and infrared sensor trained on the driver’s face and a sensor on the rear screen that can tell if it is being rained on or is dirty.
When a computer detects the eyes moving towards the mirror, it will activate the rear-screen wash and wiper if the window is dirty, or just the wiper for rain.
The patent application states that a problem with current wipers is that motorists often look in their mirror, only to find a dirty screen. “This often leads to the driver manually adjusting the wiper control switch on the control stalk,” the document states. “A delay has been incurred which may be disadvantageous. Additionally, to operate the control switch, the driver may have looked down.”
The car maker said that it filed patents on hundreds of inventions, not all of which will go into production. But it has been investigating eye-tracking technology and has previously demonstrated a system that can monitor a driver’s eyes — even through sunglasses — and spot when they show signs of drowsiness. JLR is also researching new ways of controlling functions inside vehicles.
“We are asking ourselves how we can keep the driver’s eyes on the road so they are not searching for buttons or looking down at menus,” said its global PR chief, Nick O’Donnell.
There is one other advantage to an automatic rear-wiper system: a glance in the mirror and a sweep of the blade could serve as a warning to any misbehaving children in the back that they are being watched.