Coatings for Self-Driving Cars

I love how specialized capitalism is. There are entire companies built around aspects of production that I would never even think about, until somebody points them out to me.

So it is with automotive coatings.

Everything that goes into or onto a car must be “automotive-grade”. Built to withstand the heat and cold and wear and tear and speed and miles that a vehicle experiences over its lifetime.

Car companies can’t simply buy paint off-the-shelf. They source their paint and coatings from specialized automotive paint suppliers, who produce special paints designed for the automotive industry.

And those companies are now looking at how to support self-driving cars.

Did you know that dark colors — black and gray are apparently the most popular car colors in the US — don’t reflect sensor light as well as lighter colors?

“Paints giant PPG believes it has a solution.

It has developed coatings for dark vehicles that detect light in an under-layer and then reflect the signal back to the sensor before it’s absorbed too deeply.”

In a similar vein, self-driving cars need easy-to-clean, or even self-cleaning, coatings for sensors, so that rain and snow and dirt don’t impede a self-driving car’s perception.

At NAIAS on Wednesday, I’ll be on the Planet M stage with David Bem of PPG. Come and learn about parts of the autonomous vehicle world you’d never dreamed of.

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