(Baidu Apollo, Photo Courtesy of Anko Glass)
Autonomous vehicles are the future of the automotive industry.
With global investment exceeding $200 billion USD, Forbes magazine predicts autonomous vehicles’ “impact on how we live and work could be as transformative as when Henry Ford had the first assembly line.”
From a design standpoint, autonomous vehicles require cutting-edge advanced structural materials that are strong, lightweight, and attractive. Enter Anko Glass, a Chinese manufacturer that develops lightweight, high impact resistance polycarbonate (PC) transparent composite materials and PC glazing applications for automobile manufacturers around the world.
When tech giant Baidu needed glass components for its level 5 robotic car prototype, named the Apollo, they turned to Anko Glass. Level 5 cars, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), are steering wheel-less and can autonomously drive under all conditions without requiring human driving support.
For the Baidu Apollo project, Anko Glass needed to produce a PC laminate product that could pass industry standards. There are very few companies in the automotive industry that are using PC laminate glazing technology. Prior to collaborating with SWM International (SWM), Anko Glass tested various types of interlayer films and adhesive materials that were unable to successfully bond with their PC materials.
Together, Anko Glass and SWM pushed the limits of what’s possible by harnessing the power of engineering. The result? An ultra-thin, lightweight composite glass that uses SWM Argotec™ ST-6050 Interlayer TPU Film to produce hyperboloid, switchable or optical clarity, as the PC laminates.
“Throughout the sample production and testing period the SWM team provided us with the necessary technical support and helped us overcome technical difficulties in the lamination process,” said Mr. Robert Kao, Anko Glass Founder. “The cooperation with SWM enabled us to progress our development of the ultra-thin, lightweight composite glass, which uses ultra-thin glass and PC lamination technology.”
(Mr. Robert Kao, Anko Glass Founder, Photo Courtesy of Anko Glass)
The Lightweight PC Glazing Laminated Switchable Glass is half the weight of traditional glass while being 700 times stronger. The Baidu team used this glass for the front windshield, side windows, gull-wing doors, and rear triangle window of the Apollo. In addition to providing optical clarity, SWM’s custom engineered thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film also provided UV protection, heat resistance, and durability.
“With all the advantages and quality of SWM products, we are very excited about moving forward with our collaboration in the future,” Mr. Robert Kao adds. “We believe our research and development of PC glazing will be a key contributor to achieving lightweight automobiles, reducing our carbon footprint, and ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers.”
SWM is a leading global performance materials company, focused on finding ways to improve everyday life by delivering best-in-class innovation, design, and manufacturing solutions.