Aftarobot, a transport management technology platform which launched this week at Bree Taxi rank in Johannesburg, aims to transform South Africa’s minibus taxi industry.
Designed to run on a mobile device, the platform uses wireless technology combined with cloud support to improve safety and offer greater efficiency for taxi operators and commuters.
The app gives commuters using vehicles from the Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association (J.S.S.T.A) information about when they can expect to depart from or arrive at a particular place and pre-order a taxi for collection at a designated spot. The app also enables queue marshals to better plan and allocate taxis according to demand and drivers to locate passengers quicker by tracking users’ locations which the drivers can see on their smartphones.
The aim of the app is to improve operational efficiency for taxi drivers and associations by providing insight into routing, rideshare capacities, and more of their workforce.
According to their press release, the introduction of the app will address some of the challenges that have plagued South Africa’s long-standing minibus taxi industry.
Until now, drivers have only been aware of customers when they see them at physical locations
“From a taxi owners’ perspective, there is a lack of operational visibility and control of their vehicles’ whereabouts once it leaves the property or taxi rank as well as a number of inefficiencies all leading to duplicated efforts in driving routes, ultimately resulting in a loss of potential income.
“Until now, drivers have only been aware of customers when they see them at physical locations. Without the use of AftaRobot, commuters are unable to plan their journeys safely due to unreliable taxi schedules, pick up locations, underrepresented route planning, and uncertainty regarding availability each minibus taxi. As a result, riders have been forced to reorganize their life around public transport, losing precious time and energy, sometimes on a daily basis. Riders have also had an inability to communicate with the industry directly to provide feedback on things like drivers’ safe driving habits, timeliness, availability of a ride to their specific locations.”
Aftarobot is the brainchild of Obakeng (Obby) Morapeli Matlhoko who developed the app with the support of Qualcomm Wireless Reach, a wireless technology company, which invests in programs that leverage mobile technology for social impact.
The app is based on Qualcomm-enabled 3G/4G devices with Bluetooth, beacons and other advanced wireless technologies.
Matlhoko and his team aim to implement AftaRobot in over 10,000 vehicles, 4,000 owners, and 50,000 commuters in the next two years.
“We have undergone a process to train and empower minibus taxi drivers, owners, queue marshals and minibus taxi association staff to use mobile devices to gather route activity and performance, in order to enable commuters to receive route information, estimated time of vehicle arrival and trip time more efficiently than ever before,” says Matlhoko.