A small group of high school students in Kansas City actually made it happen. As part of an extra-curricular program (this was regular curriculum in my school, but whatever) they modified a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia so that it only runs when it gets mentioned in the Twittersphere.
As the Wired article notes, “If that sounds like a publicity stunt, that’s because it is. And it’s for a good cause.”
Here are the basic details:
This year, the team put an electric drivetrain in a 1967 Karmann Ghia. Next week, they’re driving it from Kansas City to Washington, D.C. for a chance to meet elected officials and raise awareness about education. To make sure their voices are heard, they’ve attached an Arduino to the electric drivetrain and programmed it to let the car move forward only when there’s social media buzz about the project. Minddrive calls it “social fuel,” and it provides an important lesson for students: If you want people to care about what you’re doing, you have to make sure they know about it.
My initial reaction was that this HAD to be a joke. It wasn’t. My second thought – something many of the commenters have pointed out – was that this thing better damn well work if they are indeed planning to drive it to the nation’s capital.
I trust they’re done a fair amount of in-the-wild testing, but if you see a red Karmann Ghia on the side of the highway, don’t stop to help them change a tire, stop and send them a Tweet.