Ex-NASA engineer creates the friendliest car horn you’ll ever hear

Why it matters to you

If honking your horn has ever got you into trouble, then perhaps a polite one like this might be worth installing.

A honk of your car horn, no matter how well meaning, has the potential to elicit one of a variety of interesting responses from other drivers.

On a good day they’ll immediately understand the reason for your toot — perhaps they didn’t notice the traffic signal switch to green — perhaps even raising their hand to apologize or as a show of thanks. But on another occasion, perhaps dependent on the kind of day they’ve had, a helpful honk may prompt them to leave the comfort of their driving seat to grab a heavy bat-like object from their trunk before setting about altering the shape of your car with a carefully administered beating.

The problem is that the car horn, pretty much any way you press it, just doesn’t sound as polite as you’d sometime like it too.

That’s why Mark Rober, evidently a man of impeccable manners, decided to design a super-polite horn. And it seems to be working out for him (i.e., no impromptu hospital visits have been reported so far).

Rober, a former NASA engineer who loves making stuff, fitted the “nicest car horn ever” into his VW Jetta before testing it out in real-world situations on his daily drives.

The contraption actually offers three types of honk. First up is the “courtesy horn,” the politest of the three options that emits two super-quick chirps, which, as Rober says in his video, are not only friendly sounding, but also a little quieter than a normal horn.

Rober says that this is the one he uses most often, like when he’s at a stop light and the person in front misses it changing because they’re busy looking at their smartphone. When that happens, he says he’s not annoyed, he just wants to give them a friendly nudge: “I’m not upset, I’m just like, ‘Hey, dude, the light’s green, no big deal.’”

The second horn option is “one notch nicer than a courtesy honk” and isn’t really a honk at all. Indeed, anyone that hears it will wonder if R2-D2 is in the vicinity, because that’s kind of what it sounds like.

The various parts used to make the unique horn system were all bought on Amazon, and Rober gives a quick explanation in the video (above) about how he and  a couple of buddies set about building it.

Of course, Rober knows all too well that there may be times when a severe honk is called for in order to express strong feelings of dissatisfaction. For these occasions he’s installed the kind of ear-splitting horn you get on trains and semi-trucks, which works when you hit the red button. Rober recommends you only use this beast in “extreme situations.” And yes, there may be consequences.

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