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Traffic jam tow hook

Take a nap in your next traffic jam
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Driving in a traffic jam consists of moving forward about 10 feet at a time at about 3 miles per hour, coming to a stop, and then waiting for the next opportunity to move another 10 feet at 3 miles per hour.

I propose that cars have a metal pole attached to the front, about four feet in length with a hook on the end. This pole would be manipulated using some sort of joystick from inside your car.

The next time you were in a traffic jam, you could pull up behind the car in front of you, and then maneuver your pole so it hooked onto that car. Then, pop your car in neutral and sit back and relax until the traffic jam cleared up.

The hook would need some sort of breakaway mechanism to release its grip if the car you were attached to changed lanes or exceeded a certain speed. An alarm could alert you to the need to take the controls again.

PotatoStew, Nov 01 2000

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       soooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooo ooo what youre saying is that the car at the front of the queue would have to pull all the other cars along? How do I say this gently..not gonna happen.
dja, Nov 01 2000
  

       [Admin: white space courtesy of -R-Us. Please don't use long words. PeterSealy will tune out and you'll mess up the post-gen-X layout.]   

       Add a plug to the hook that allows the front car to grab energy from the other cars it pulls, or that allows the front car to control the motors in the cars it pulls.
jutta, Nov 01 2000
  

       Hehehehe....   

       This contraption was featured in the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics in the '70s. (Never read them? You haven't *lived*!) It was one of their clever ways to save energy during the oil crisis of the early years of that decade.   

       Another favorite of mine was the car engine consisting of a wheel powered by hamsters fed on a water-and-amphetamine mixture....
BigThor, Nov 01 2000
  

       The car at the front would almost never end up pulling everybody... there's always someone who thinks that the other lane is moving faster and therefore switches lanes. That would break the chain. More likely, there would be short strings of cars that occassionally broke up and reformed. However, Jutta's idea would provide a good remedy in case a long string did happen.   

       Of course, we could avoid this by keeping the idea to ourselves, and maybe instead of *all* cars having this, only install it on halfbaker's cars. More of an underground kind of thing rather than a Detroit-mass-produced option.
PotatoStew, Nov 02 2000
  

       Actually, such a concept wouldn't just be nice for traffic jams. If you could just grab onto a semi in front of you when on the I-road that would be nice too. Were it not for reliability issues, a system where the front cars provided guidance and slight traction on the pull-bar which then operated the rear vehicles' motor and brakes would be quite useful from the perspectives of improving highway utilization and fuel efficiency (since cars wouldn't need much separation, and rear cars would ride in the front cars' slipstream). The problem is that if something goes wrong old-style pileups would seem tame by comparison.
supercat, Nov 03 2000
  

       Yeah- I guess you'd call the new pileups "tow jam"......
BigThor, Nov 03 2000
  

       <reconsiders rescuing BigThor after that pun...>
StarChaser, Nov 04 2000
  

       [I didn't realise we were "post-gen-X" here.]
hippo, Nov 06 2000
  

       maybe instead of a real bar you just have a guidance system that watches the next car and move you up as needed, that way you could read a book or get in the back seat and go to sleep.
futurebird, Jul 10 2001
  

       At least one type of car has a cruise control that adjusts to the speed of the car ahead of you. Or so the commercial claims...I forget what it is, that's the first thing in the commercial and I fast forward past it...
StarChaser, Jul 12 2001
  

       The front car would have to have amazing amounts of torque and horsepower to be able to tow a chain of cars behind it. Most cars only have a towing capacity equal to about one other car. You'd probably need a vehicle with a massive diesel engine to handle the torque needed for pulling. A semi might work.
talamunda, Jul 13 2001
  

       One of the early annotations was mention of a way for the lead car to control the others in the chain for brakes and motors, so the front car wouldn't be working so hard. I like this idea..
StarChaser, Jul 14 2001
  
      
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