This amazingly simple gadget makes your car sound like R2D2

The "Courtesy Horn"
Source: Mark Rober/YouTube
The "Courtesy Horn"
Source: Mark Rober/YouTube

"Blowing the horn is a fact of life, part of the fabric and culture of the city," Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman for AAA New York, told the New York Times back in 2013. "If it weren't there, people would wonder."

But what if the symphony of horns sounded a bit cuter?

Former NASA engineer Mark Rober has posted a tutorial on YouTube for the "NICEST Car Horn Ever," which transforms your vehicle's main honk into two quick chirps, which Rober dubs the "Courtesy Honk." The tutorial also includes an R2D2 beep and a loud-as-hell honk created by a horn typical of semi-trucks and trains.

But the two gentler ones don't necessitate any major hardware — just a $27 Adafruit sound board, a few horn buttons, an AMP and a PA speaker. The effects don't require programming skills, since the sound board lets you drag and drop sound effects via USB. You can head here for full instructions.

Source: YouTube

While it's unlikely many drivers are going to pimp their rides with sick new courtesy horns, Rober has a point — road rage and driver aggression are causing more fatal accidents than ever, and a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found nearly 80% of drivers said they "expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year."

"Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage," Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a press release. "Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly."

Perhaps a friendlier and less-blaring horn option could assuage the rage. Who would drive you off the road after a gentle R2D2 chirp?

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Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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