I have to admit, aside from being occasionally entranced by their rhythmic motion while stopped at a traffic light, I never really thought that much about windshield wipers until I saw the 2008 movie “Flash of Genius” about Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper mechanism.
But if you thought Kearns’ invention was the latest advance in windshield wiper technology, you’d be wrong. It turns out that innovative development in the windshield wiper arena is still ongoing. For example, MathWorks recently announced that Mitsuba, a manufacturer of wiper motors, used MatLab and Simulink to develop the controller of the reversing wiper. Using MathWorks software, Mitsuba was reportedly able to deliver a complete system for the reversing wiper in 81 percent less time than originally estimated. According to MathWorks, by adopting model-based design, including automatic production code generation, Mitsuba reduced its project development time from 16 weeks to 3 weeks.
For the development of the reversing wiper, Mitsuba used model-based design with MathWorks products for control modeling, simulation, verification and automatic production code generation. Simulink was used to model control structures, control functions and test harnesses based on the specification. Using Simulink and SimMechanics, Mitsuba created a plant model including the windshield wiper link mechanism, wiper arm and body mount.
“Model-Based Design enabled us to identify and solve problems at the requirements specification stage and early in the design process instead of late in development when using final hardware,” noted Takao Arai, engineer in the electric engineering department at Mitsuba.
The reversing wiper system is currently in production, with monthly shipments of 20,000 - 30,000 units. As a result of its experience on the reversing wiper project, Mitsuba has standardized on model-based design for all new projects including motor control products for hybrid and electric vehicles.