Could AGRR technicians of the future need tools such as Google Glass to “ensure that they have the expertise to create a perfect fit for any windshield in any car no matter what technology it contains?” Belron’s management thinks this could be the case in a new report called “Window to the Future.”
Belron’s United Kingdom-based company Autoglass® recently held a Window to the Future Conference, where the company launched its solution to replace and recalibrate windshields equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
In addition to hosting the conference, Autoglass® parent company, Belron, commissioned a variety of industry experts to shed some light on what the future of windshields will look like in the new report.
“Drawing on their insights, the ‘Window to the Future’ report paints a picture of the future of cars and driving and highlights how our driving lives will be changed by the integration of new technology, communication and safety features into the windshields of tomorrow,” writes Gary Lubner, CEO of Belron, in the report.
Over the last decade, the glass area in vehicles has grown by 15 percent and the windshield accounts for “up to 30 percent of the structural integrity,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, the thickness of glass has decreased by 10 percent over the same timeframe.
“We think that there is a space on the windshield for additional functions, and this is what car manufacturers are also looking for,” writes Frits ter Heide, sales and marketing director of Saint-Gobain, in the report.
Chris Davies, head of technical research and innovation of Belron, explains, “Vehicle manufacturers are more likely to use more glass in the future—as it is lighter than metal—alongside more use of composite materials like carbon fiber.”
It is also possible that windshield wipers will fall by the wayside as technologies are developed that can clear rain without their need.
“Windshield wipers are just the same technology as 100 years ago. Are there really no other ways to clean my window?” asks Edwin Klaps, director of business development at AG Insurance, in the report.
Could sun visors also disappear? It’s quite possible. Bob Bateman, senior engineer of advanced engineering for Nissan’s Technical Center in Europe, mentions that monochromatic glass could remove the need for these devices.
Fleets Could Benefit
Smart windshields could inform fleet managers “if the windshield has been hit by a stone or an object,” according to Gwen Daniel, Belron technical expert.
Fleet and leasing companies have a relatively quick renewal cycle on vehicles, so they could see the benefits of new technology more quickly, according to the report.
“More than half of all new cars in the U.K. are registered to fleets, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, and 60 percent of all new cars have two or more technologies in their windshields, according to Belron,” based on the report.
Insurers also have a stake in evolving vehicle technology in the form of premiums charged to customers.
“Driverless cars will take quite some time, more than ten or 15 years, but I’m convinced that the car will be there, sooner or later, especially when we see less death in traffic and less bodily injuries,” writes Ernst Pompen of the Association of Insurers in The Netherlands, in the report.
Vehicles including collision avoidance systems could lead to a 44 percent decline in insurance claim frequency, according to Ron Actuarial Intelligence, which completed a report for Israel’s Ministry of Finance.
“In years to come, the infrastructure will exist to gather and analyze real-time data from integrated smart windshields acting as the digital hub of the vehicle,” based on the report.
Liability could shift more to the manufacturer as vehicles become “smarter.”
So what does all this mean for AGRR companies? It means that keeping up with evolving technologies is a real challenge.
Companies need to invest in research and development and ensure technician-training processes are as “future-facing as possible,” according to the report.
This is where virtual and augmented reality tools could come into play. It could ensure the knowledge to complete the windshield replacement as safely as possible is readily available to technicians in the field.
To read a copy of Belron’s report, click here.