When it starts to rain, the first question asked is always: ‘Is it raining?” The drops of water falling from the darkly clouded sky are never enough evidence. The 2014 Buick Encore, though, can be equipped with new Rainsense wipers which not only know when rain hits the windshield but also automatically turns on windshield wipers.
And it does all this without asking any stupid questions.
How is this technology any better than Chicken Little?
The rain sensor has the ability to detect light that the human eye cannot. As rain hits the windshield, the water refracts light at a small wavelength. The Rainsense light sensor can detect it by using infrared light beams.
It even works at night. While the human eye ‘sees’ darkness, a raindrop will still refract some infrared light that the sensor can detect.
I bet this involves science.
A sensor is placed behind the rearview mirror, a great location for other safety features like the Encore’s Lane Departure Sensor. Software in the Rainsense sensor understands different environmental conditions thanks to input from other systems in the car.
The speed at which the 2014 Buick Encore is traveling will affect the wipe frequency as will low light levels – the sensor automatically adjusts to nighttime condition. The sensor takes a reading every 40 milliseconds, about the time it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings once.
Sounds simple enough.
So why don’t all Buick cars have Rainsense wipers? Each car requires a multi-stage process and an enormous amount of testing hours, explains Matt Piazza, General Motors’ global design engineer for rain sensor technology. “Each vehicle is unique and there are a lot of factors like windshield pitch, rain intensity, vehicle speed, and light conditions, that all have to be accounted for and validated.”
Buick’s website contains more in-depth details about the 2014 Buick Encore Rainsense feature and the testing process.