As Honda describes in the patent, this system would operate by using information from the car's various sensors. Among them would be a sensor that would pick up on the noise and vibration from the equipment in the car wash, as well as when the scrubbers come in contact with the car. The car would also use information such as the vehicle's speed, and the driver's throttle and brake inputs. With all of these sources combined, the system should be able to shut off wipers only when it's in a car wash, and not during an extremely heavy thunderstorm.
How soon this technology becomes available is anyone's guess, but we'll be happy whenever it comes to market. We would be even happier if Honda, or another automaker, takes the idea a step farther to create a car wash mode that would automatically fold in the mirrors and deactivate the parking sensors. Something along those lines could prevent even more accidental damage, and keep the parking system from going into conniptions.