Food Delivery Service With A Difference: This Motorised Wheelchair Gives Wings To People With Disabilities


Chennai:

Spinal cord injured 37-year-old Ganesh Murugan from Chennai is a traffic stopper, as he rides his new motorised electric wheelchair to deliver food. He’s perhaps India’s first wheelchair food delivery person. An innovative motorised electric wheelchair designed by a start-up incubated at IIT Madras has increased his earning potential.

The two-in-one motorised wheelchair can be detached by a push of a button and the rear part turns into a simple wheelchair giving him the crucial independent last-mile access. This enables him to wheel into accessible restaurants or even high-rise buildings to collect and deliver food. 

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37-year-old Ganesh Murugan on his new motorised electric wheelchair 

For seven years Ganesh has been working from home. It took several years for him to him recover after a truck hit him in 2006 injuring his spinal cord. Though he used a modified scooter to commute, he had to carry a wheelchair and required another person’s help to shift from the vehicle to the wheelchair or back to the vehicle. Now he earns an additional Rs 6,000 for delivering food part-time using the new vehicle.

Sharing his new mobility and his new confidence, Ganesh said “Recently I had to deliver on the 10th floor at Ambattur. I didn’t ask the customer to come down. I detached the front wheel and got into the lift as it could accommodate the wheelchair. The customer was very impressed. I too enjoyed the experience and the customer was happy too.”

A few kilometres away Rajaram, who is orthopedically challenged due to Polio has signed up with  Zomato under the delivery by cycle category. He zips through northern Chennai feeding the hungry. He says this motorised wheelchair as given wings to his dreams. His income is now up by Rs 9,000. He says, ” With this income, I’d be able to manage my monthly rent and any additional expenses.” On the new experience, he adds, “People appreciate me when I carry my food delivery bag. they look at me with pride. I see a big difference between the way they looked at me earlier and now”.

Suresh a young engineer who had ordered lunch on his off day was pleasantly surprised when he learnt  Rajaram is on his wheelchair bringing his food. Calling this a welcome empowerment in E-commerce. He said, “When I saw him almost twenty feet from my doorstep I felt that’s enough for him. I need to go forward and bring the parcel. They can do anything if the opportunity is given”. He has a suggestion for e-commerce platform. “They should add a significant number of people with disabilities as delivery persons. The app should indicate this to the customer. They should also have a separate category for these delivery persons so that they are seen to be inclusive.”

The start-up, NeoMotion Assistive Solutions Pvt Ltd was founded by three students and a faculty from IIT Madras. Their customised rugged vehicle can cruise at 25 km an hour. It takes 4 hours to charge and rides 25 km on a single charge. The team hopes this could open up many new opportunities. 

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The start-up, NeoMotion Assistive Solutions Pvt Ltd have helped built this vehicle to empower differently-abled

Siddarth Daga, a Co-Founder shared, “We have in fact got in touch with India Post. that they can help us do letter deliveries through the post office. we have tried to contact newspapers Hindu and times of India, having for milk delivery. this would create new opportunities in any field that requires mobility.”

The two-in-one vehicle costs nearly a lakh rupees. The founders are now roping incorporates so their CSR funds could fund and empower differently-abled who can’t afford the cost but can profit from it. The start-up has supplied around 1300 vehicles. Among these around 300 vehicles have received corporate sponsorship. Responding to what drew them to solve challenges of the differently-abled community shunning lucrative corporate jobs.

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This two-in-one vehicle costs nearly a lakh rupees

Ashish Mohan Sharma, another co-founder said “eventually it’s the satisfaction of the work that you are doing something good from what you learnt from the college, which we are able to fulfil. we were not fascinated with the corporate world.”

While innovation at IIT Madras creates new opportunities for the differently-abled in the e-commerce delivery space, researchers say this is just the beginning and the best is yet to come. 



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