KOCHI: Smart autos, introduced with the aim of making autorickshaws more accessible and public-friendly, is all set to become operational by April. Though the project was given the green signal and adopted by over 700 autorickshaws in a span of two years, it is yet to find a footing in the city. Taking note of the pitfalls, Vehicle ST, the startup behind the concept, is introducing a sensor-based app backed by artificial intelligence which will prove beneficial for both passengers and drivers.
According to Alwin George, CEO of Vehicle ST, though all the autos have turned 'smart' by adopting the app and installing the navigation device in their autorickshaws, it is yet to make an impact. "At least 220 autorickshaws have adopted the system in Ernakulam, while the remaining are in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.
Ads are a source of revenue and play on the screen during the entire ride. Every autorickshaw driver has to keep the app on for at least eight hours so that they can play the advertisements. Based on this, we pay the driver at least Rs 500 per month. Though the public book rides, it is yet to become fully functional," he said.
According to Biju K G, a driver who operates from the High Court stand, the function is useful as it has brought a lot of drivers under a single banner. "We have become more accountable. However, the current drawback of the system is that it is not connected with the metres which are fit inside the autorickshaw.
The Vehicle ST founders have promised us that they would incorporate the metre system within the app, which is more practical. Right now, most of us are finding it difficult to operate in the city limits based on the calls we receive through the app. Our priority still is to ferry passengers who arrive at the stands. Once the system is put in place, we hope we can function along the lines of online taxis," he said.
Alwin said the more upgraded system will benefit the public once the feeder system including the water metro and other projects are in place. "Through the upgraded app, which is based on artificial intelligence, we will be able to keep a tab on the passengers who frequently use our smart autos," he said.