AftaRobot, a transport management technology platform aimed at every touch point in the South African minibus taxi industry, officially launched on, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 in Johannesburg.
Designed to run on a mobile device, the app allows commuters using vehicles from the Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association (J.S.S.T.A) to, according to the company, travel safely, on time, and most importantly, with no queue. The platform aims to improve operational efficiency for taxi drivers and associations by providing newfound insight into routing, rideshare capacities, and more of their workforce. With a touch of a button, commuters will now have the ability to pre-order a taxi for collection at a designated spot.
The introduction of the app will address some of the challenges that have plagued South Africa’s long-standing minibus taxi industry. 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.
AftaRobot will help commuters to plan their journeys, provide pick up locations. The platform will address underrepresented route planning, and uncertainty regarding availability each minibus taxi. As a result, riders have been forced to reorganise 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.
According to Obakeng (Obby) Morapeli Matlhoko, the visionary behind AftaRobot, “Imagine, as a daily commuter, you will have the power to buffer your intentions instead of your time. In other words, you will be able to use the app to book the taxi in advance – whereas in the past you would have had to get up bright and early and possibly compromise your safely by waiting for a taxi to pass by due to unreliable taxi schedules. Taxi drivers will also benefit. As load and route-based service, commuter behaviour and routes will now become clear, resulting in more efficient operations.”
From a technical perspective, the app is based on Qualcomm-enabled 3G/4G devices with Bluetooth, beacons and other advanced wireless technologies; the entire platform consists of a suite of mobile apps running from a cloud backend.
In the next two years, Obby and his team aim to implement AftaRobot in over 10,000 vehicles, 4,000 owners, and 50,000 commuters. With the continued help and full support of Qualcomm Wireless Reach, who invests in programs that leverage mobile technology for social impact, Obby believes they will meet their goals.
“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,” adds Obby.
The activation taking place today, 21 February 2018 will be driven by Qualcomm Wireless Reach, whose goal of bringing the economic benefits of wireless connectivity to entrepreneurial ventures will be realised in Johannesburg, ultimately, improving people’s lives.