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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Disperser  
  Device that gives an electric shock to anyone who touches a vehicle.  

In the teeming metropolis of Sagramanda, it is important for vehicles to maintain their space.

Occasionally, a pedestrian attempting to pass part of the flow would step off into the street. This happened less often than might be expected since most vehicles, both public and private, were equipped with dispersers. Via conduits embedded in the carbon-metal car frames, an electric charge flowed from the vehicle's motor through the vehicle's exterior. Anyone coming in contact with this would receive a low-voltage jolt that was strong enough to make them want to avoid such contact, much less lean on a vehicle so equipped.

City vehicles were allowed to generate much more powerful charges. Unlike private cars and taxis whose repelling nuisance voltage was limited by law, those of fire engines and police cars responding to emergency calls could be cranked up to truly uncomfortable levels. Nobody in their right mind would attempt to get in the way of or hitch a ride on an ambulance with siren wailing. Touch a bumper or a door and the current flowing through it could knock a man off his feet and leave him quivering helplessly on the street for a minute or more.

From Sagramanda, by Alan Dean Foster.
Published by Pyr in 2006
Additional resources -

This idea has a venerable history in science fiction. See the entry for Electrify the Hull from Jules Verne's classic 1875 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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