When you imagine the innovators and inventors who shaped the automotive world, you probably picture industry giants like Henry Ford and Nikola Tesla. You might not know, though, that the brilliant minds behind many of the key components of modern vehicles were those of women. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve listed a few of those brilliant women, who essentially changed the way we drive today, here:
Mary Anderson, Charlotte Bridgwood
If it weren’t for these two women, it’d be hard to get around while it’s raining. Mary Anderson was granted a patent in 1903 for her manual windshield wiper design—a hand-operated device designed to wipe off the windshield for better visibility. Improving on Anderson’s original design, Charlotte Bridgwood patented an automatic version of the windshield wiper in 1917 that automakers would eventually implement in most every vehicle on the road today.
When she embarked on the world’s first long distance road trip in a motorized vehicle in 1888, Bertha Benz (yes, that’s Benz as in Mercedes-Benz) noticed the wooden brakes weren’t working well. She stopped along the way to have a shoemaker install leather soles on the brakes, devising what is considered the world’s first pair of brake pads.
Turn Signals and Brake Lights
Though she was best known as a silent-film actress, according to History.com, Florence Lawrence was also an inventor. In addition to appearing in nearly 250 films, she designed the first “auto-signaling arms”—a flag system that indicated when a driver was going to turn left or right or stop. These “auto-signaling arms” would spawn what are now turn signals and brake lights.
Also a famous movie star, Hedy was well-known for her roles in Samson and Delilah, Lady of the Tropics, and Boom Town. According to Biography.com, she co-invented a “Secret Communications System” which was originally intended to help defeat the Nazis during WWII. The same technology would lay the framework for the development of many of the communications technologies we use today including WiFi and GPS.
In 1893, Margaret devised a way to heat the car without electricity. Her design worked by channeling the hot air from the car engine into the front cabin of the vehicle.
We salute you, ladies. Can you imagine what driving would be like today if it weren’t for these women? Check back with us at Direct Connect for more fun car facts!
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