#266: Fuel feedback

According to DaimlerChrysler, fuel economies of up to 25% can be achieved by modifying driver behaviour. This is hugely more significant than any foreseeable technical advances: it’s mostly about pressing the accelerator pedal less.

Feet, especially those shod in heavy duty leather, aren’t exactly sensitive to angular position. Secondly, we tend to judge how hard to press by watching for changes in ‘optic flow’: how the environment rushes past. This is by no means an accurate measure, yet that’s how we mostly determine vehicle acceleration.


Today’s invention provides a simple way to lessen the consumption of fuel. There are lots of gauges fitted to cars which throw a needle across a dial to indicate how economically, or otherwise, one is driving. What is actually needed, though, is a more direct psychological link between pressing the accelerator pedal and throwing money away.

A digital display on the dashboard would respond, very sensitively, to depression of the ‘gas’ pedal by showing how much of the last fuel load had been spent at any given moment (calibrated directly in eg £). This would require the driver to type in the cost of fuel added in the garage (in the absence of a wireless data transfer from the petrol pump itself).

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