BENGALURU: We Bengalureans are desperate for any ways and means to ease our infamous traffic troubles. And no amount of flyovers, signals and road humps have been able to create a solution to the difficult situation on our roads.
Two schoolmates from St Germain High School here have teamed up to develop a prototype for a smart road divider - or SMIDER - which they say can bring relief to our traffic conditions, and is also a step towards making Bengaluru a smart city. This first-of-its-kind innovation is going to be internally validated and then launched in the next few days.
Ashwin Natarajan, an engineer with a marketing MBA, says that the idea was a 'flash of inspiration'. "All of us sit in traffic jams and wonder why it's happening or how we can change it. But no one actually does anything about it, and that's when I thought, while looking at a block of concrete, that if this block could move, it could help alleviate traffic. Apart from traffic signals and roundabouts, no innovation has been made in recent years to ease traffic, and there is a need for smart innovation," says Ashwin.
How does it work?
Explaining the science behind it, Ashwin says that SMIDER is an electro-mechanical device, which controlled by a remote as well as a panel. Through the remote, one can collapse the divider when needed, and through the panel, one can control regular traffic. All it needs, is to be connected to electricity, as it works with a 1/2-1HP motor, which dosn't take up too much power.
Ashwin says that Chinese lane shifters and American road zippers can be seen as inventions along the same concept.
Traffic police supportive
"The SMIDER took a fair bit of time to develop. We took the concept to CK Baba, the then deputy commissioner of police, Bengaluru (Traffic East Division), and that's how it was originally brought to life, as he was very enthusiastic about it. However, he was transferred, and the next DCP, though excited, didn't know how to fund this," says Ashwin, adding that they've gotten good support from the traffic police.
Sachin Kamaladharan, co-founder, joined his friend when he could find time off from his own startup journey, as he strongly believed in solving the traffic problem in the city. He says,"My using the SMIDER, we can also curb policemen risking their lives while trying to control traffic. The first place we'd like to try this out is at the Cauvery Junction."
Sachin adds, "Cities are spending so much these days on infrastructure, but it's not enough just building another flyover, we need to work towards making infrastructure smart now. And technology needs to be maximised so that those funds are used fully."
Making SMIDER commercially viable
Ashwin says that about a month back, they put their concept up on crowdfunding platform Ketto, and the response has been great. "We wanted to get a funding of Rs.2lakh, and we've almost reached that target in just one month. A lot of support has come in from family and friends."
Sachin adds that after launching the model, the next step would be to take it to the market and make it commercially viable. "SMIDER can be used effectively at hospitals and airports. We also plan to roll it out for corporate parks and malls." Check out their crowdfunding efforts at https://bookasmile.ketto.org/fundraiser/smider.