Connecting Drivers... To Drivers
We're not talking about fuel efficiency, though that is important. No, actually fuel economy is already something that people are warming up to. Maybe not like wildfire, but the seeds have been sewn.
To understand the real problem we're talking about, lets run through a (really) short history of cars, and the drives behind each era of car design:
The first cars were the simplest of people movers. Never very fast, except when compared to walking, and open to the air, even with the ragtop up, the driver was connected to the outside world. And, the driver was connected to the outside world's dust, dirt, and engine noise. But very little of this mattered, because there were hardly any cars on the roads, so the idea of talking out the window, or having to receive signals about lane changes (what lanes?!) wasn't an idea yet.
Instead, comfort and speed were made king by the designers and the marketplace. During the years following World War 2, some of the most spacious, comfortable cars that have ever roamed the streets. And they did roam. More like tanks than cars, this era of excess left two things to be desired: Fuel efficiency was completely missing from the culture of the time, and personal safety was also sketchy at best.
And so now our most recent crop of cars addresses these concerns. Hybrids like the Prius shown above get such radically different mileage than the Cadillac Eldorado, it's surprising they can both be called cars. On top of that, you'll be hard pressed to find a contemporary car with the same awful health record as one of the 1960s behemoths. We have made such strides, but there are still problems. Big ones.
Compared to the days of Henry Ford, we have congestion he couldn't have imagined. And, phenomena like road rage only add to the sense of isolation we feel with so much glass and metal around us. It's time for the next revision of cars.
Cars need to allow us conversation again. We spend so much time commuting to and from work, shuttling children around town, and just plane driving, that we need ways of converting that isolation into connection between drivers.
Once success story, albeit small, has been mirror-mounted turn signals. Not only are they in a much better place for lane changers, but they automatically position the lights so that the driver can send out a message to other cars "Hey you guys, I'm changing lanes".
Another interesting proposal is the concept of "Thankyou Tails" which are remotely controlled gesturing devices for the back of your car. A steering-wheel mounted button allows the wagging tail to be turned on, off, up and down. If someone lets you into a particularly dodgy line of cars, you can reward the with a wag.
Little bits of gesture and information like these are what keep people connected to their fellow drivers. And connection is what keeps misunderstandings from escalating. We have to help drivers find this connection.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team