A new app targeted at South Africa's minibus taxi industry has been announced. AftaRobot, is said to be a transport management technology platform that will assist both commuters and taxi owners.
One of the reported benefits by the app developer is that commuters will be able to avoid long taxi queues by being able to pre-order a taxi to pick them up at a designated spot.
AftaRobot South African minibus taxi mobile app.
“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 safety 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 behavior and routes will now become clear, resulting in more efficient operations,” said Obakeng Morapeli Matlhoko, Founder of AftaRobot.
AftaRobot is not the first time that an app for South African minibus taxis has been proposed. In 2017, the City of Cape Town's municipality was considering introducing a ride-hailing app for minibus taxis in the city. This was as part of its Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN) plan. The app, similar to how some features of AftaRobot work, was envisaged to work in a similar manner to how Uber and Taxify work by allowing customers to request a minibus taxi on-demand.
From a technical perspective, AftaRobot 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. To that effect, Matlhoko and his team are currently implementing the app to be used with minibus taxis from the Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association (J.S.S.T.A).
“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,” concluded Matlhoko.