Interview with the mind behind "Happy Auto"s

One day after the official launch of “Suguma Savari’s” first initiative called “The Happy Auto”, the buzz it has created and the reviews I get to read are impressive. There are few aspects of this project very few are aware about and I believe this could be an inspiration to many young budding engineers out there. So, to get an insight into the project, let’s talk to the man behind the project, my dear friend!

Introducing Mr. Aravind MA.

Please tell the readers about yourself.

Currently I work as a Junior Research Fellow at IISc, Bangalore. After finishing my Bachelors at PESIT, I took up a job at IISC as a JRF under Prof. N.S Dinesh at Mechatronics lab of DESE dept. I also started an initiative to improve practical learning at graduate level and also help society along with a few friends called photoelectricchefs. Apart from all this I still have a very much normal life, I am a traveler, a foodie and I am just enjoying life as it comes. Well that’s me.

How did the idea of “Happy auto” come into place?

Happy Auto was an idea that came up about 4 months ago. I had just started writing android apps then. I wrote this simple app to communicate with other bluetooth devices, impressed by this my dad (Parthasarathy MA) came up with the idea to make commuting in Bangalore safer. Over the next few days we spoke to different people, refined the idea and now you can see in its final form.

How/Why do you believe “Happy auto” will succeed?

The Success of Happy Auto cannot be seen immediately. We rely on collection of input from users. The more the users the better or more reliable the data. So, I believe in a span of 3-4 months we should start seeing the results. This should be visible by how happy commuters are after these 4 months. Mainly focusing on late night commuters and women who are often cheated/mistreated by these drivers. Given the situation we have in our city, we believe this to be one step in helping society to help itself make a safer city.

How challenging was this project,both technically and non-technically?

I come from an electronics background, and making applications was not something I would do. But with OpenSource and Free software you always have a bunch of people ready to help out. So was the case in this project, I received technical help from various blogs,forums and friends. Overall it was a few weeks of sleepless nights to get the complete software up and running. Technically, I think any person who knows basic programming is capable of building such an app. Its all about sitting down and getting your hands dirty.

Non-technical aspects were mainly handled by my dad. Getting appointments with the Bangalore police dept. explaining the concept here. Then we also had to talk to various auto-rickshaw drivers and explain to them the whole idea. Many were really impressed and interested in such a system being implemented.

What do you think is the future of “Happy auto”,What can the users expect next? As you may have already noticed, there are two names here, “Suguma savari” and “Happy auto”. Sugama savari is aimed at all forms of commute in Bangalore. Happy auto was our first aiming only auto-rickshaw commuters. Going ahead you can expect similar services for buses, taxis, along with location updates for bus routes for our users. But all this depends on the feedback and support we get from our users.

Could you elaborate on photoelectricchefs? and how it is connected to happy auto? Photoelectricchefs is the name we have given ourselves. A couple of friends and I came up with this thought of helping society in our own ways. We build projects, we teach students stuff they hardly learn in their engineering colleges, organize projects and provide support for students to take up, which can later be turned into real world applications to make life simpler. Currently, we along with the Free Software Movement Karnataka (an organization promoting Freedom of Knowledge), have teamed up with 2-3 projects being done by students from various colleges to learn electronics practically.

Happy Auto was also one such project which had its roots there. So I think it can be said that photoelectricchefs developed Happy Auto - that is the connection between the two.

Having taken a road hardly trodden, how does it feel?

Well, firstly the education mentality must change in the country. We need to focus more on being self sustained than being dependent on tools for simple solutions. Students today need to be taught on practically approaching issues rather than just age old theory.

Apart from that, society should help encourage such ventures, by simple motivation or in terms of monetary help like office space or equipment etc. More like crowd funded projects.Most importantly, the will power to make a difference.

So, from what I understand you help other young folks take the path you have taken. What do you think is currently required to have more ventures like yours?

Well, Firstly the education mentality must change in the country. We need to focus more on being self sustained than dependent for simple solutions. Students today need to be taught on practically approaching issues than just read age old theory.

Apart from that society should help encourage such ventures, by simple motivation or in terms of monetary help like office space or equipment etc. More like crowd funded projects.

Most importantly, The will power to make a difference.

Just before we conclude, What advice would you give the youth reading this?

I would like to not just give advice to the youth, but also to elders as well.

For the youth: Be practical in your study and do what you enjoy doing.

For the elders: Support the youth of today, they are the future, guide them but do not de-motivate them from things they want to do.

I would not be in this position if it weren’t for my parents supporting me at every step.

To check out the Happy Auto app for Android, please visit the Google Play store here.

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