Speed up the passenger-pickup phase of a Lyft or Uber ride with this new conveyor belt system for ride-sharing cars!
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.
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.
This inefficient entry method wastes time and increases the chances that the stopped ride-share car will be hit by an inattentive motorist.
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.
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.