The first mass-produced cars Mr. Ford produced came in one color. Black. Thankfully that’s all changed but with the quickly growing advancement of self-driving cars, their navigating lasers have a hard time seeing black. So like the challenges Henry Ford faced, and overcame, so has PPG Industries, the worlds largest producer of vehicle coatings.
PPG has developed a paint that allows the infra red light emitted by lasers to see through the top coat of paint.
PPG got the idea from the purple eggplant. Seems it uses that purple skin to keep cool on hot days while growing in the fields. Similar technology has been used on aircraft since 2015. The technology is based on the eggplant’s skin color and the white flesh underneath. The purple skin lets near infrared energy pass through to it’s inner white flesh so that it can reflect the heat away.
The light absorbing carbon black used in many paints, that absorbs light, is being replaced so that sonar, radar, and more can see dark cars.
Because the surface of cars have to be detected this new technology has made paint and color a key piece of the future for self-driving cars.
You can learn more about this in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, January 22, 2018.