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Category: Automotive

After this bad driver rudely cut you off in traffic, YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE what happened next with a laser that caused them to repent their wicked ways.

The issue:

Sometimes, drivers are terrible (Figure 1).

But there unfortunately does not exist any practical and useful way to accomplish the following:

  1. Let these drivers know that they have committed a traffic infraction
  2. Warn other drivers to watch out for these terrible drivers.

Fig. 1: The blue car in this example is randomly weaving in and out of traffic, and is generally being a terrible driver.


This plan has two parts, shown in Figure 2:

1) Every car must be painted with a special photo-reactive paint, which will (temporarily) change color when exposed to a specific frequency of light.

2) Every car ALSO must have a laser gun mounted on it somewhere (for example, on the roof or on the hood).

Then, whenever you see a bad driver, you simply point the laser at their car, and it fires a beam that changes the target car’s paint color (Figure 3), letting other drivers know that that car displeased you in some way.


Fig. 2: When a bad driver annoys you, you can just pull out your car laser and “paint” their car with bad-driving photon energy.



Fig. 3: After being hit by the bad-driving lasers, the blue car’s paint is now a bright orange, lettering future drivers know to steer clear of this car, and letting the driver (or perhaps their parents, for student drivers) know that they committed some sort of traffic infraction.


This would remove the need for the DMV, traffic enforcement, and traffic signs, thus saving countless dollars every year.

PROS: Saves a ton of money, works well for everyone.

CONS: The laser might cause blindness, which could be remedied by modifying every car to have special window glass that absorbed that laser’s frequency. Additionally, pedestrians could wear sunglasses, so really there is no downside.

Don’t get too excited, but it’s YET ANOTHER idea about stop signs! Maybe this blog should be renamed “Worst Traffic Signage Proposals.”



When a driver comes to a stop sign, they don’t intuitively know whether it is a two-way or an all-way stop. The difference is important, because a lot more diligence is required at an intersection where cross traffic does not stop.

The issue:

See Figure 1: if you add a bunch of trees, parked cars, buildings, and other visual obstructions, it can be very difficult to determine whether the other cross streets have stop signs or not.


Fig. 1: In this bleak gray-and-white plain, it’s easy to tell that the cross traffic does not stop, but in reality there will be a number of trees / cars / buildings that obstruct the driver’s view.


Lanes of traffic that specifically do NOT stop could be marked with lines on the ground (see Figure 2), similar to a crosswalk.


Fig. 2: This green arrow (which extends through the intersection, as seen above) is a visual indicator to inform drivers that cross traffic does not stop.

The only downside to this would be that people might start to assume that the lack of lines would mean “cross traffic DOES stop.” In that case, an alternative formulation could be made where the lanes that do stop are specifically marked ini an obvious fashion (see Figure 3). (Although existing intersections do occasionally have a white line and the word “STOP” painted on them, this marking is very inconsistent and is not at all visually obvious).


Fig. 3: A) In order to prevent drivers from relying too much on “lack of any marking = cross traffic DOES stop,” we could invert the scenario and explicitly mark the lanes of traffic that WILL stop (orange dots here). B) The blue arrow is another possible example of a more aggressively obvious pattern to indicate lack of traffic stopping.


You should buy some stock in companies that sell road-suitable paint, and then propose this idea as an amendment to your state’s constitution (assuming that is a possibility).

PROS: May reduce accidents at two-way-stops-misinterpreted-as-four-way-stops, which might be a major cause of residential car crashes (probably someone knows this, but not me).

CONS: Doesn’t work very well when there is snow on the roadway. Additionally, paint requires substantial maintenance to keep visible; roads might need to be repainted a lot more often, for unclear benefit.

Uber and Lyft may have diminished the taxi medallion system, but the “medallion” idea can still be applied in other places! One weird local government tip.


Taxis in many cities operate under what is called a “medallion system” (Figure 1), whereby the supply of taxis is limited by a fixed quantity of tokens (“medallions”) that are issued in controlled quantities by the city.


Fig 1: An actual “taxi medallion” is apparently nothing like this.


For some reason, almost nothing else is regulated in this manner. But there are other services that are conceptually similar and could have their own “medallion” systems.

For example:


Fig 2: Food delivery (e.g., pizza, Chinese food). Like a taxi, the driver operates a passenger automobile on public roads for commercial purposes.  A “delivery driving wedge” could be required in order for a business, such as a pizza restaurant, to deliver food.


Fig 3: Dog walkers make use of the public sidewalks and roads, and must abide by requirements that other pedestrians are not subject to (“pick up dog poop, do not allow the dog to bite anyone”). This “dog hypercube” would ensure that there was not an over-abundance of dogs on the sidewalks at any given time.



Fig 3: The medallion system could be applied to other activities with commercial potential.

  • Bicycles: Like a taxi, a bicycle consumes space on the public roads. Licensing of bicycles to a small number (see Figure 3, right side) would guarantee the availability of bike rack spots.
  • Internet usage could be prohibited without an “Internet cube” medallion (see Figure 3, left side). This could increase the available bandwidth for other purposes and could bring clients back to businesses like video rental companies and paper map retailers.

PROS: Opens up a new source of income: purchase a medallion, and then rent it out!

CONS: It may be difficult for City Hall employees to estimate the exact quantity of medallions to issue.




Venture capitalists love this one weird trick—double your startup “runway” time and reduce employee salaries dramatically while improving quality of life at the same time!

The issue:

Many companies (especially tech-related ones) are located in extremely expensive cities.

If a company in a major metropolitan area could easily relocate to a nearby but outlying area, then employee salaries could be cut by 25%, yet the employees would still have more after-tax/rent income.

So essentially, the company would both be more profitable and the employees would be earning more.

Of course, it has always been quite difficult and inconvenient to move a company.

Until now, that is!


Instead of having a standard office building, a company can be based in a large number of slightly-modified truck trailers (Fig 1).


Fig. 1: Here we have three 18-wheeler trailers in gray and one truck cab in orange.

Three separate trailers would make for an oppressive and inefficient workspace, so the trailers are specially modified so that 1) the side walls can be removed and 2) a floor plate can extend out to bridge the gap between trailers. Figure 2 displays a single office room that is created out of three trailers.


Fig. 2: The three trailers from figure 1 are combined into a single large room. Specifically, the side walls of each trailer can be lifted up, allowing multiple trailers to be combined.

There are countless advantages of this plan over a traditional office building:

  • Easily relocate your business to an area with lower cost-of-living / lower rent
  • Makes it easier to threaten to relocate your business to another state / country in order to (hopefully) extract tax breaks from the local government.
  • If your business becomes crowded, you can add more trailers as needed.
  • If you over-bought and your office is too big, you can downsize the office by simply removing a few trailers.

Figure 3 shows a possible office layout inside the three-trailer example office.


Fig. 3: Inside the three trailers, a standard workshop or office space can be configured, as demonstrated here. Note that the floorplan is free to ignore the boundaries between trailers—it’s effectively one large room, just like a regular office.

The only issue with treating the space as a single unit (rather than 3 trailers) is that if the office were to be moved, you’d need to make sure all the furniture fit within single trailers (or you could cut your furniture in half, and put the halves into two separate trailers).


Fig. 4: If you want to move your company, you just need to push the furniture so that it doesn’t span multiple trailers. Furniture that is in danger of being chopped in half is illustrated here with the “scissor-cut” icon and green highlighting. For most businesses, this would be an easy task (unless heavy machinery or elaborate cubicle arrangements are involved).

PROS: Makes it easy to relocate your company for both cost-of-living reasons and for tax purposes.

CONS: A multi-story building would be difficult to manage. Most layouts would be limited to a single story.

Five easy improvements to the despised “four-way or all-way” stop sign! End your confusion about road signage, and never get a ticket for rolling through a stop sign again!


The stop sign, for all its utilitarian simplicity, has a severe and critical shortcoming: it has two different roles, both marked by the same sign (Figure 1).

The two situations, and what the driver must do in each case:

  1. All-way stop: driver can casually check for other cars right there at the intersection, and then proceed.
  2. Two-way stop: driver must look far down the road for quite some distance to identify any fast-traveling cross traffic.

These two situations are TOTALLY DIFFERENT, but the sign marking them is the same (Figure 1).



Fig. 1: Is this an all-way stop or a two-way stop? Who knows! See Figure 2 for the answer.


Fig 2: Oh, it was a two-way stop. I hope the driver looked far down the road before proceeding!

Previous attempts at solving this problem:

This is a recognized problem, and sign designers have attempted to (poorly) solve it before, as shown in Figure 3.

So far, they have been completely unsuccessful.

Fig 3: Some (but not all!) signs specifically indicate “Cross traffic does not stop” or “All-way stop.” But just the fact that a subtitle is required is an admission that these signs are fundamentally flawed.


The “all-way” and “partial-way” stop signs need to be clearly different at a glance.

See Figure 4 for a proposal that is backwards-compatible with existing stop signs.

Fig 4: Proposal A (“Four leafed clover”): The traditional “octagon” stop sign (left) will now indicate partial-way stops: its meaning is now upgraded to “be EXTRA CAREFUL, because the cross traffic does not stop!”

The new “four leafed clover” stop sign (right) indicates an all-way stop, where the driver only needs to look for traffic at that stop sign before proceeding. Because existing stop signs are all the “be extra careful!” kind, we don’t need to worry about immediately replacing all existing stop signs.


Fig 5: Here is an alternative form of the “four leaf clover” sign proposed above.

Fig 6: Substantially altering the silhouette of the stop sign would make the difference even more obvious, as shown in this “emphatically on-fire” stop sign.


Fig 7: Sometimes it may be insufficient to just indicate whether or not an intersection is all-way or partial-way. For example, in a (rare) partial-way intersection with more than four intersecting streets, a driver may entirely miss a street.

Here, the number of dots on the stop sign indicates the number of non-stopping incoming roads. This allows the driver to know how many roads they should be looking out for.

So the five-dot sign would indicate a (very rare) 6-way intersection with only one stop sign, the three-dot one would be a four-way intersection (again, with just one stop sign), and the no-dot sign would indicate an all-way stop.

(A reflective yellow border would indicate that this is a “new style” stop sign, to avoid confusion with the previous no-border signs—otherwise, every old-style stop sign would seem to indicate an all-way stop.)

Bonus idea: It has been shown that humans have a deep-seated primal reaction to certain stimuli, such as a silhouette of a spider or of a snake about to strike. In order to make the stop sign stand out even more, so no one would ever miss it out of the corner of their eye, perhaps it could be fashioned into the likeness of a cobra, poised to strike.

PROS: May reduce traffic accidents, especially if a simple backwards-compatible system like the one in Figure 4 is adopted.

CONS: People might start to treat the partial-way “four leaf clover” stop signs like “yield” signs, and roll right through them.

Never run over a pedestrian or a bicyclist while looking for a parking spot, thanks to this new attention-saving idea! Personal injury lawyers hate it!


It can be difficult to safely drive down the street AND find a parking spot at the same time. Many locations look like parking spots until you get right next to them (Figure 1) and see the fire hydrant / driveway / red curb (Figure 2).


Fig. 1: This is a road with two opposing lanes of traffic separated by the dashed yellow line. Cars (black) are parked on both sides of the road. The red car is driving from left to right down the two-lane road. Question marks indicate possible parking spots, but which ones—if any—are valid and will also fit our red car?


Fig. 2: Unfortunately, the locations above were all disqualified for reasons that were not immediately obvious (fire hydrant, loading zone, driveway, etc.). The process of disqualifying these parking spots is a dangerous distraction to the driver!


A system with a LIDAR / radar and an integrated GPS unit would be able to constantly scan ahead for valid parking spaces.

This “SpotFinder” would work as follows:

  • A LIDAR unit (a laser range-finder) scans in front of the car, looking for gaps between parked cars.

  • If a spot is detected, SpotFinder checks the LIDAR data to see if the spot is big enough to fit your specific car.

  • SpotFinder checks your GPS coordinates in a street map database, to see if there are any disqualifying reasons to not park in the spot (e.g. fire hydrants, driveways, etc.) even if there is physically enough space there to fit a car.

If all the conditions above are met, SpotFinder beeps and says something like “parking spot located, ahead on your right in 60 feet, after the blue parked car.”


3a-maybe-rightFig. 3: The LIDAR unit is looking at the right side of the street at candidate parking spot “E.” The spot is big enough to fit a car, but the map data indicates the presence of a driveway. No good!


Fig. 4: Here, the LIDAR unit is assessing parking spots A, B, and C on the left side of the street.


Fig. 5: Spot F is valid, but unfortunately isn’t quite long enough to fit the red car.

PROS: Increases safety by allowing drivers to focus their attention on driving instead of evaluating parking spots.

CONS: If the map database isn’t constantly updated, the system could occasionally suggest an invalid parking spot (for example, if a new driveway was constructed where a previously-valid parking spot had been). So the driver might get some false positives of suggested (but invalid) parking spots.