• Jul 26, 2009
It's amazing how something you can't see, such as the air around you, can have so much of an effect on what goes on while you're driving. Consider the impact of that invisible air when it wraps itself around the windshield when you're driving top-down in a convertible (honestly, is there any other way?).
We've all been there: sun shining, cloudless skies, let's drop the lid and go for a ride. Now, if your noggin has a bowling-ball smooth finish, this isn't an issue; just smear on some sunscreen and go. But if you have, you know, hair, the air curling around behind you whips it around into a chaotic mess. Sure, you could wear a hat, but then you get hat head and need to sport that lid all day to keep it hidden and generally avoid ridicule.

Back in the 1980s, wind-blockers were developed, but these were often a pain in the neck to put in place. Plus, they look goofy. A team of Stanford engineering students has collaborated with their counterparts at the Technical University of Munich to develop a potential solution something they call OpenRoad. Essentially, it's a hole in the windshield. The idea in play here is quite simple: the air flowing through the center of the windshield creates a stream that prevents the air at the sides of the cockpit from curling back around.

Obviously a production version could be better integrated and actually route air from the front of the car rather than through the windshield, but the concept is beautifully simple and seems to work in the video. Check it out after the jump. Hat tip to Sarah



[Source: Stanford University]



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  • 40 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      BMW has a habit of creating "April Fool Jokes" and this seems to be yet another one. The device does not seems to work since they filmed at night and used a dark haired female and even when using the device - the hair is still flying around.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Um, the first 30 seconds of this made me think it was a porno. What's with that funky music? :D

      I don't think drilling a hole in the windshield would be a good idea. Any kind of weak point like that would make it completely lose rigidity, and it wouldn't hold up at all in an accident.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Ryan

        The SLK is a two seater and has a wind buffer right behind the driver and passenger headrest that prevents the wind from buffeting into the seating area. Can't do that in a four-seater, due to the back seats being there behind the front seats.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They couldnt have filmed that during the day right?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah because nothing screams safety and rigidity like chopping the top half of your car off to make a convertible to begin with. . It won't make a difference in an accident other than first responders being distracted trying to figure out wth it is while you lay dying in your car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Only a fool gets in a moving vehicle anyway. Those things are dangerous! Obviously getting in a moving vehicle is just the first step to getting in a moving vehicle accident.

        That's why I spend all my time at home in my parents' basement. Not going to get in any rollover accidents here. In fact if there is a tornado everyone will be running to room to be safe!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Obviously a production version could be better integrated and actually route air from the front of the car rather than through the windshield"

      We already have this, it's the climate control system. Turn it up...way up :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hate convertibles to begin with but this is just sad.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have no hair....well long hair to deal with so meh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they improve the look of the overall unit surrounding the hole, as well as make the hole cover some type of secondary display/mount, this is a real winner...if it isn't already.

      Cool idea.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think if you put your AC at max blast, it would have the same effect..
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hi Everyone,

      Some comments from someone who actually worked on the project back in 2004-2005.

      As some of you pointed out, this is a proof-of-concept prototype, and definitely not the final design for an aftermarket solution or the next generation 3-series convertible. We weren't able to make any permanent or structural modifications to the car, so installing a polycarbonate windshield and drilling the hole was the quickest and cheapest way to demonstrate the concept.

      For a market ready product/feature, the idea would be to use the existing ventilation system so that: (a) no line of sight obstruction (b) no hole in the windshield. Current HVAC system in cars don't have the kind of power to accomplish the same effect, so no, just turning the know won't work (it was the first thing we tried).

      We did install a filter in the duct to catch any bugs, but for some reason, after testing the system for nearly 1000 miles, we didn't catch a single one. Something about the flow of air over a convertible that prevents bugs from entering the duct.

      As for the video, yes, it's a shame that it was shot at night. We actually made the video the night before the final presentation for the class. Casting, filming, editing all happened between the hours of midnight to 9am. Not bad for a last minute "hey wouldn't it be cool if..." but we definitely could've done better with more time.

      More pictures and explanations are up on my portfolio at: http://www.sushi-suzuki.com/designer/index.htm

      Cheers,

      Sushi
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would think people could just use the HVAC vents to do the same thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And what's with filming your promo video in the dark? Don't want people to see how ugly/large/ungainly that thing is on the dash?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was wondering why she was smiling, now I know!
      • 5 Years Ago
      So if I drill a hole in my brother's head, will it stop all the hot air from hitting me in the face when he opens his mouth?
        • 5 Years Ago
        He won't be able to open his mouth. Problem solved!
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