Limitless Possibilities

How Glass Fits in Cars of the Future

By Katie Brown

Ever wondered what cars will look like 50 years from now? Michael Robinson, an American car designer based in Italy, recently spoke about the limitless future of auto glass at Auto Glass Week in San Antonio. His 38 year career as an American car designer in Italy includes 22 years as Design Director at Lancia, Fiat, Bertone, and ED Design. Robinson is also a renowned futurist, presently developing an autonomous vehicle startup in Tennessee. Robinson used his expertise to engage the crowd with the possibility of the future.

Safety Should Be Priority One

Robinson began with a heart stopping mortality rate. He stated that 1.34 million people are killed in car accidents every year.

“We have to stop. We cannot justify killing 1.34 million people with our cars. These are our cars, we create them,” said Robinson. He even started a campaign in 1996 to stop driving cars because of the mass casualties. He wanted to do his part to end the carnage. As he realized, he needed to take a different approach to keep people safe. This is what led him to car design.

So what can designers do to meet this change? Robinson noted that they are divided, but everyone agrees that something needs to change. He stated specifically when it comes to auto glass it is time to alter the rules. The installation and manufacturing tends to be too old school, Robinson told his audience, and it needs a breath of fresh air.

Autonomous Possibilities

According to Robinson, the future will see many autonomous cars. There is a high demand for them today. Autonomous cars will unlock endless possibilities for car designers, and the changes won’t stop there.

Robinson predicted that by 2040, cars that run on gasoline will be illegal, as will steering wheels and gas engines. As for glass, the future will see embedded image generation capabilities in auto glass. This is already widely available for TVs, but the future will see it in windshields as well, allowing for constant connection and information.

Eliminating the Big Three

By 2050, Robinson expects to see what he called the three zeros: no emission congestion, no accidents and no traffic. He believes that autonomous cars will be run so efficiently, that even stoplights will be eliminated. The flow of traffic will be down to a science, allowing for total efficiency.

These changes will allow vehicles to “morph” into personalized shapes. Customers will be able to customize cars specifically to their design wishes. Robinson even expects glass to
take the place of sheet metal on cars. “Where are the cut lines? How do you get in or get out?” Robinson posed these questions concerning glass body designs. “Well, that’s the
fun part for designers.”

Designers will be able to have a lot more fun with car design. In fact, people are already sketching what they hope to see in the future. By getting rid of things like engines and steering wheels, designers will be able to create striking and totally unique designs.

Auto glass will also be completely different in the future. Robinson predicts there will be a desire for vehicles with the “helicopter effect,” meaning glass covering every inch of the exterior of the car, allowing passengers to see outside from every angle. With the integration of embedded imaging into glass, passengers will be able to see whatever they want on the screens. There will even be the possibility of integrating two-way glass into vehicles, where the passengers can see out, but it would appear to be opaque from the outside. With the possibility of surrounding automotive glass, Robinson commented that
there would need to be better UV protective glass.

When it comes to the future of auto glass replacement, Robinson said there needs to be an on-going discussion between designers and manufacturers. The future of auto glass will be very different from what we know today, but as Robinson put it, it is going to be a lot
more fun.

Katie Brown is a contributing writer for AGRR magazine.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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