In the North America of 2018, there are hundreds of thousands of vehicles driving from one city to another, commuting in from the suburbs into the metropolis on a daily basis. Yet research shows that approximately 85% of those vehicles contain only the driver themselves. That’s a lot of empty seats, and when we think about it, a lot of unnecessary extra traffic. Long, solo road trips are not only costly undertakings; they also contribute to carbon emissions. Ultimately, our philosophy to creating the transportation network that fits the needs of tomorrow is to maximize pre-existing infrastructure and resources, enabling people with private cars to share their journey with others traveling in the same direction while receiving money to offset the cost of an already-planned trip. And we will attempt to do all this in a truly decentralized fashion with the help of the Ethereum blockchain.
What it does
CryptoRyder looks to become a decentralized sharing economy platform that combines the growing trend of peer-to-peer businesses with long-distance/inter-city traveling. Through a web application, CryptoRyder connects Riders, those who would like a convenient way of getting from one city to another without driving, with our Drivers who happen to be going along that route and have extra seats in their vehicles. From a business standpoint, a distinct advantage that CryptoRyder has over other solutions lies in its ability to maximize economic efficiency. The platform provides value to customers who now have a reliable and low-cost alternative for traveling, as well as commuters/drivers who are able to cut down or recoup the cost of gas for a journey they were planning on regardless.
But where does the blockchain and decentralization come into play? All data concerning delivery transactions are stored on the Ethereum blockchain network. In a nutshell, Ethereum gives you the power to trust. It enables the development of systems of automated and executable agreements facilitated by smart contracts that ensure that all counterparties are treated fairly throughout a transaction. Decentralization allows us to further maximize economic efficiency by replacing any profit-seeking intermediaries with smart contracts established directly between parties (Rider and Driver). This is unlike services like Uber and Lyft, which take a cut of the payment from the user of the service to the provider to compensate them for facilitating the transaction. We believe this reinforces our mission for creating positive change in a non-profit manner.
In addition, since Ethereum tracks every transaction non-repudiably on the blockchain, there is always a trusted record. This allows for better transparency and more trust between Riders and Drivers in this open development platform. Lastly, with on-chain data concerning the reputation of both Riders and Drivers and the success of their prior "transactions", the use of blockchain technology promises to help facilitate the decentralized credit scoring system of the future.
How we built it
To facilitate efficient development of CryptoRyder, we had one of our team members focus primarily on the front-end, with a particular focus on designing good user experiences and interfaces. We took cues from well-known incumbents in the sharing economy industry to identify features of their web experience that contributed to their success. Meanwhile, the two other members worked on developing the smart contract with Solidity and subsequently using the Truffle framework to help integrate the underlying smart contract with a React front-end. Lastly, we worked on porting over the HTML and CSS done by our first member to work with React.
Challenges we ran into
- For one of us, it was their first time delving into the world of blockchain development! So they spent a bit of time really trying to understand the underlying technology and how it presents significant solutions over incumbent solutions
- Unfamiliarity with React and its steep learning curve presented challenges with working with React to create the front-end
- It became somewhat difficult to clearly figure out the incentives of each party in the transaction, and figure out various ways people might try to "game" the system and short-change the other party. We spent quite a bit of time on this in order to ensure a smooth transaction process where both parties are treated fairly and equitably.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- Learning how to solve various problems (eg. verify that the driver/rider has arrived in the meeting place) without the help of a centralized server while also accounting for current limitations of blockchain technology
- Picking up Solidity and writing up a full smart contract (especially considering the relative lack of documentation that exists for it)
- Setting up a fluid user experience on the front-end with integration with the underlying smart contract
- Completing our project without the help of API's, fitting in with our goal of true decentralization
- Having a fully functional prototype within 24 hours
What's next for CryptoRyder
- To look into ways of possibly incorporating a 'Ryder' token that can be used in our platform, to incentivise early adopters to have a stake in our platform and grow the platform (since they'll be rewarded as the platforms grows and their 'Ryder' tokens increase in value)
- Add support for payment in different cryptocurrencies
- Leveraging decentralized credit scoring systems of the future to approve Drivers
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