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Tag: automobile

Speed up the passenger-pickup phase of a Lyft or Uber ride with this new conveyor belt system for ride-sharing cars!

The issue:

One transportation model used by ride-sharing cars (formerly called “taxis”) is the “carpool”-style trip, where multiple passengers are picked up and dropped off at various points along a mostly-shared route.

(Lyft Line and Uber Pool are currently the most well-known of these.)

This “carpool”-style trip is cheaper than a normal ride for each individual passenger, but the route may be slightly longer due to detours to pick up and drop off each person.

The issue:

Sometimes, a car will be partially full when it picks up a new passenger. If there is someone sitting in the curb-side rear seat, the new passenger will generally attempt to enter through that door first, then realize that someone is there and walk around the car to the other side (Figure 1). For maximum comedy, the passenger already inside the car may misunderstand and slide themselves over to the other seat, thus accidentally blocking the incoming passenger yet again.

1-rider-in-seat

Fig. 1: If someone is already occupying the back right seat, then a new passenger who attempts to enter through that door (see arrow “A”) will be stymied. They will have to either walk around the car or else wait for the current passenger to slide over to the opposite seat.

This inefficient entry method wastes time and increases the chances that the stopped ride-share car will be hit by an inattentive motorist.

Proposal:

The fix to this situation is simple: the back seat can be replaced by a pair of conveyor belts (Figure 2). These conveyor belts will be controlled by a switch on the dashboard, and will allow the driver to slide any current passengers out of the way of new incoming passengers.

2-conveyor-belt

Fig. 2: The back seat is replaced by a pair of conveyor belts. Note that this new configuration still seats three, so we haven’t lost any functionality.

 

3-conveyor-arrows

Fig. 3: The conveyor belts are synchronized, so any passengers on them will hardly notice as they are gently scooted over.

Conclusion:

Although this feature is not currently standard in any production automobiles, it would make sense for it to be an add-on, like heated seats or a sunroof.

PROS: Increases ride-sharing efficiency by reducing the new-passenger pickup time. This is especially important since ride-share company profits are currently in the “negative numbers” range.

CONS: It is unclear whether seat belts could be installed in this conveyor-belt seat system without strangling back-seat passengers. Possibly this system should be prototyped in countries with non-existent safety regulations.

Stop being so wasteful by purchasing 2 cars, when you could get away with 1.5 cars instead using this one weird trick!

Background:

Sometimes, different tasks call for different tools.

The idea of being able to mix-and-match different components of a mechanical device to fit the job at hand has been around for a while.

For example:

  • Many screwdrivers let you change out the bit. Now you only need one screwdriver for multiple types of screws.
  • Vacuum cleaners often have a half-dozen bizarre attachments for cleaning different surfaces and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Cameras have various attachments for different types of photograph.
  • Firearms also have many possible attachments. For example, if you are bringing a rifle to a Civil War re-enactment or a post-apocalyptic Terminator-style re-enactment, you might want a bayonet or laser sight, respectively.

There is even a project to demonstrate how this idea would apply cell phones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Ara

But the idea of being able to mix-and-match different parts has, surprisingly, never been applied to cars.

The plan:

Instead of having to over-buy your car / truck for the largest job you might need to use your car for (“maybe I’ll need to move a bunch of furniture, I’ll get a large truck”), instead you could just buy a modular car and switch out the modules in question.

For example, if you bought a small 2-door car but find that it has insufficient space, you could swap out the rear half of the car for a larger four-door model.

Similarly, if you find your large station wagon is too difficult to park downtown, you could swap out the back half with a tiny trunk module.

car-modular-pieces

Fig 1: Color-coded modules for a car. Top: the yellow “driver” module + orange “pickup truck” module. Middle: a standard rear module in brown. Bottom: an “extra seating” module in green plus a “rear-facing extra seat” module in blue for high-density seating.

A user could switch out modules as desired, without the need for any mechanical expertise, due to standardization for the connections between modules (shown in red in Fig. 1).

Conclusion:

This is not only a great idea, it was even briefly demonstrated in the James Bond movie “The Living Daylights” (car number VAZ-2106). See time 0:57 on Youtube here for a visual example.

PROS: Now you won’t need two cars, you can get away with… one and a half cars?

CONS: A side-impact collision would probably cause this type of car to explode into its component modules.