For the sake of humanity, Toyota. Make it happen

Raise your hands if you’ve ever dropped any items or knick knacks that sliver of space between the front seats and the center console. It’s a frustrating thing to have to deal with, especially when you’re running late and you drop your keys there or you’re paying toll on a busy turnpike and a few nickels and dimes slip out of your hands and gets sucked into that abyss just as you’re about to fork them over to the self-service machine. The experience can shoot blood pressure levels through the roof but from the looks of things, Toyota seems to have come at just the right time to relieve us of one of our worst nightmares with a patent for a device it calls the “Under-Seat Capture Device.”

This isn’t a joke, folks. Toyota filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for such a device, which can help car owners easily retrieve small objects when they’re dropped into that veritable black hole. According to one version of the new tech – or “embodiment” as the patent describes it – a small chute located in the dark space catches items that fall in and funnels them to a platform located just beneath the seat. This platform is then connected to an actuator that, when actuated, moves the platform to a location where the driver can easily retrieve his items. Seems straightforward enough, right? More than that, it’s the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we need more of in the industry today. It’s hard to imagine anybody not having gone through the pain and frustration of dropping items in that small crack. Hopefully, Toyota’s patent application bears fruit one day. We’ve waited long enough for salvation, Toyota.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

There’s more to Toyota’s patent than meets the eye

If you think this whole patent application is silly, then you likely haven’t been put in a position where you have to retrieve these knick knacks after they’ve literally fallen through the cracks. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant position to be in, especially if you’re put in a situation where you have to step out of the car and force yourself to contort your body in ways it probably wasn’t meant to. Even then, actually finding these items is still incredibly difficult.

Toyota's Patent For An Under-Seat Capture Device Is The Answer To Our Prayers
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There’s even a patent for a similar chute design in the gap between the front seats and the front doors, even though it is a lot easier to retrieve items if they fall in this particular crevice.

You can imagine then how useful this technology can be if it’s done properly. Even Toyota seems to understand the magnitude of the problem because it’s actually proposing different solutions and arrangements on how to best use the technology. There’s a manually operated design that functions similarly to the chute-and-retrieve function detailed earlier. There’s also an automated system that can actually sense these items as they drop and then automatically shoots them out for easy retrieval, kind of like a toaster does with bread. There’s even a patent for a similar chute design in the gap between the front seats and the front doors, even though it is a lot easier to retrieve items if they fall in this particular crevice. Still, anything to make a driver’s life a little easier against the perils of these evil spaces is something I’m all in favor of.

Toyota's Patent For An Under-Seat Capture Device Is The Answer To Our Prayers
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I’m aware that patent applications don’t necessarily translate into full production.

The whole point of the patent is actually brilliant. It also makes you wonder why nobody has thought of doing something like this before. Better late than never, I suppose. And for what it’s worth, I’m aware that patent applications don’t necessarily translate into full production. But if there’s one patent application that I’m rooting for, it’s this one. It’s about time we get a feature like this in our cars and even if it comes as an added option at some point in the future, I don’t think I’ll be the only person who’ll be happy to pay for it.

Rest assured, I’m keeping tabs on how far this application moves going forward. Toyota, if you’re reading this, all eyes are on you. Don’t tease us with something like this and then leave it in your files. Make it happen because I’m tired of having to dig around these places for all those nickels, pickles, and dimes that I’ve dropped over the years.

Source: United States Patent & Trademark Office

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