The new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster has just been revealed by the company, and it boasts a luxury feature that was a big hit when it was part of another car that the company had created: electrochromic or “smart” auto glass on its panoramic roof, which was also part of the Mercedes-Benz SLK that the company unveiled at the very start of the previous year.
Electrochromic auto glass is essentially a type of glass that has the capacity to transition from one colour or opacity to another and back again, with the color or translucency change being triggered by an electric current. Electricity is generally the stimulus necessary for electrochromic materials—and there are in fact quite a number of them—to display this curious trait. To take a simple example of what happens, a small sheet or fragment of electrochromic auto glass of the type used in the Mercedes-Benz SLK might normally be colored dark blue but can turn into a clear, practically untinted piece of glass after a current is passed through it. Once it is in its “untinted” state, one need only pass another current through the glass to effect another change, this time to turn it back into the original dark blue shade. The color alteration is not permanent, but it is persistent, which means the current need not run continually to maintain one of the material’s forms.
Electrochromism is one of the most valued developments in “smart” materials, and has already been applied to things other than serial automobile manufacture, even in the field of transportation. For instance, the ICE 3 trains of the Deutsche Bahn have smart glass dividing the drivers’ cabins from the passengers’ sections. There have also been applications of electrochromic glass in construction, both for commercial buildings and residential ones, with it being dubbed as a smart type of privacy glass.
The smart glass that Mercedes-Benz uses for its cars is taken from the company Research Frontiers, which manufactures what it calls SPD-SmartGlass. The benefits of using such glass for automobiles are impressive: with a typical sunroof or moonroof, for instance, one has no choice but to suffer the possibility of baking heat when summer comes along, even if one does get the benefit of an open-roofed feeling during more clement days. With a sunroof that has the capacity of changing tint levels, however, there is the possibility of simply switching to a darker roof during sunnier or warmer weather, making for a more comfortable ride. Furthermore, with the SmartGlass being capable of rejecting over 99% of UV rays, you get the satisfaction of a healthier drive altogether.
The new Mercedes-Benz SL, with its smart auto glass panoramic roof, is going to be available this season in the United States.
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