Sunday, June 03, 2012

My Invention Idea

My idea is simple, yet revolutionary. It comes in three steps.

1) Add a laser distance meter to the front bumper of every car, which is continually taking measurements of how car away the thing in front of you is.

2) Combine it with a computer that calculates the speed at which you are approaching the thing in front of you to work out a safe following distance for your current speed.

3) Hook that up to a set of speakers in the car that would play an annoying sound, which gradually increases in volume as you exceed the safe following distance (ie, as you get too close to the car in front of you.) My original plan was to put in a governor on the accelerator linked to the computer which would automatically cut out the gas as you got too close, but this seems like a better way of doing it.

Since I'm aware this wouldn't be the most popular invention...ironically, it'd be least popular among the people who need it most...I'm tempted to add 4) Design the whole thing so that it gives you a mild-but-painful electrical shock if you try to tamper with it.

Now granted, this isn't a multi-million dollar invention, because I'm pretty sure that nobody thinks of it as a quality-of-life improvement for their driving experience to have loud, annoying noises playing in their cars. But I'm also pretty sure that nobody enjoys having someone less than two feet from their rear bumper when driving at highway speeds, either, so it's just possible that we could get the government to mandate something like this in the same way they require seat belts and airbags. In a way, it makes even more sense; we're willing to spend millions to make cars more survivable in the event of a crash, so why wouldn't we spend about $150 to try to prevent the single most preventable accident there is?

I know, there's probably some crazy reason why it would be a bad idea. But given the amount of absolutely terrible driving I've seen in the last two days, just let me have my dream, okay?


Anonymous said...

... at exactly the moment I need to make a lot of fast, important decisions (when something falls from the back of your car, when you slam the breaks, when someone cuts me off) my car is going to make a distracting, high-pitched whiny noise that, as a good driver, I only associate with stress and danger and getting cut off? How could this go wrong?

Greg Fleming said...

I've had a similar idea, but with a twist. Basically the idea is to mount a rear-facing camera in *my* car, connected to a range-finding system and an accelerometer. Thus, when I'm going 70mph and the idiot behind me is 10ft from my bumper, the system takes a picture of him, and uploads the picture and the speed and range data to some central server somewhere. The data gets munged a bit, and sold to insurance companies, who can then raise that guy's rates. Caveat: only works in states that require front facing license plates. Which mine does not, more's the pity.

Sean Tait Bircher said...

How about instead of a klaxon it's the soothing voice of the late Majel Barrett saying "Warning: collision imminent?"

And John's point was to have the signal go off when you're too close to safely brake in the first place, so if you're actually a good driver you shouldn't have to worry about it in an emergency.

Nelson said...

Just posted today on Hackaday, the reverse of your idea: a device mounted on the back of a bicycle that senses the distance to a car behind, and lights up in brighter & more urgent flashing patterns to alert the car's driver when he gets too close.

P.C. BErnard said...

I'm sorry Sean B. but Anonymous does have a point. I've been cut off more than once, and I expect I will be cut off a few times in the future, and seeing how it pisses me off enough already without a high-pitched noise on top of it, trying not to ram the idiot or to lose control of the car with the noise would not be an experience I'd enjoy.

John Seavey said...

To clarify: The noise would have a phased cut-in, so that if someone cut in front of you, it would give you time to slow your speed instead of abruptly jumping to "AH-OOO-GAH!" levels of annoyance. Think of it like one of those alarm clocks that keeps getting louder until you hit the snooze button, except that in this case "hits the snooze button" is replaced with "backs off to a safe following distance." :)

RichardAK said...

What would stop drivers from just disconnecting the damned thing? Or, more subtly, having a hidden switch installed so that the device can be switched on for any inspection, but then switched off.