Robert Colvile recalls the eccentric Yorkshireman whose feline encounter led to the invention of cat's eyes
It is a near-impossible coincidence. In 1933, a Yorkshireman was driving through fog, on the verge of veering off the road, when his headlights caught the gaze of a cat sitting on the verge, and inspiration struck.
Fifty-seven years later, another Yorkshireman was trapped on a foggy road, and had a similar moment of genius. Their inventions - the cat's eye, and its upgraded, solar-powered successor - would make roads safer for millions.
The SolarLite, which offers 10 times the visibility of traditional cat's eyes and lasts far longer, is the invention of Martin Dicks, a former fireman. While driving from Doncaster to London in 1990, he realised that existing models were just not good enough in fog.
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