Auto rickshaw drivers have gained notoriety across the country for being a tad pushy and rude even. But of late, entrepreneurs are trying to give the trade an image makeover by using technology to offer better services to passengers. One such entrepreneurial venture called Namma Auto came into being back in 2013 after the state pushed auto drivers to use digital meters, opening a large door of business opportunity for private players.
Namma Auto, who were one of the early entrants became quite popular for its billing system and are now, innovating on a couple of other things to bring the latest features and technology seen in a car into autos such as GPS systems, tablets and also electronic billing. “Cars have all the latest technology updates whereas autos don’t have such facility and that is why we wanted to bring this system in autos. After work, drivers can use the tablets for personal use.” a company official said.
The auto rickshaws from Namma Auto will feature GPS tracking systems, through which the company can track where the autos are moving and also at what speeds they are moving. The autos have been fitted with a ‘panic button’ for the commuter, which can send distress signals instantly to the company’s call centre, incase of an emergency. The electronic billing system on the other hand, generates bills informing passengers of the distance travelled, the fare and the time taken, among other things. There are about 127 Namma Autos running in the city of Chennai at the moment and this number is likely to go up to 500 vehicles in the next two months.
Makkal Auto, another player that entered the market last year, have also decided to do away with the old meters and use tablets instead. Once the commuter boards the autos, the tablet is switched on and gives them details on the fare, information about the driver and places of historic interest. The tablets also display advertisements. “Around 20 consumer durable firms and real estate firms advertise on our tablets and commuters get to flip and see them during their travel.” Mansoor Ali Khan, chairman of Makkal Auto said.