Automotive coatings will need to provide far more than eye-catching aesthetics and extended protection when an array of new mobility models enters the market, Rebecca Liebert, PPG senior vice president, automotive OEM coatings, told her audience during an Automobili-D presentation at Detroit’s Cobo Center in mid January.

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 can be significantly less visible to LiDAR and radar systems. Additionally, the performance of 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.