Automotive coatings will need to provide far more than eye-catching aesthetics and extended protection as new mobility models enter the market, Rebecca Liebert, PPG senior vice president, automotive OEM coatings, told the audience during an Automobili-D presentation yesterday at Detroit’s Cobo Center.
During a panel discussion titled, “The Road Ahead: Examining the Impact of Autonomy Beyond the Vehicle,” Liebert said PPG researchers are developing coatings that will enable reliable autonomous vehicle operation, enhance the performance of electric-vehicle battery packs and improve passenger comfort and utility.
As one example, coatings are being developed to reduce absorbance and increase reflectance of LiDAR and radar wavelengths emitted by autonomous driving systems. Without these, a darker-colored vehicle, bridge abutment or other obstacle can be significantly less visible to LiDAR and radar systems. In addition, the performance LiDAR sensors can be affected by dirt, road spray and other potential obstructions.
“A vehicle’s ability to sense and react to its driving environment is the central focus for safe, reliable autonomous operation, and functional coatings can help OEMs address this need,” Liebert said.
Liebert also described a variety of PPG coating technologies that can interact with traffic systems and provide identification of roadways, signs, tunnels, buildings and other infrastructure.
Modern coatings are already playing a protective role in power storage for lithium-ion battery packs. Liebert said PPG has developed a new battery coating that is more environmentally friendly than many existing solutions and provides improved battery range and performance.
“In many cases, we have the advantage of being able to leverage PPG research and market-ready technologies that are already benefitting our customers in other industries, including aerospace,” she said. “This ability to quickly adapt and validate existing solutions for new challenges helps set us apart in the mobility space.”