37 years old, Ganesh Murugan from Chennai with a spinal injury, became India’s first wheelchair food delivery person. He rides new innovative motorized electric wheelchair designed by a start-up incubated at IIT Madras to deliver food.
Rear section transforms into a simple wheelchair with push of button
With the push of a button, the two-in-one motorised wheelchair can be detached, and the rear section transforms into a simple wheelchair, providing him with critical independent last-mile access. This allows him to wheel into restaurants or even high-rise buildings to collect and deliver food.
Ganesh has been working from home for seven years. After a truck hit him in 2006, injuring his spinal cord, it took him several years to recover. Even though he commuted on a modified scooter, he had to carry a wheelchair and needed the assistance of another person to shift from the vehicle to the wheelchair or back to the vehicle. He now earns an extra 6,000 for delivering food part-time with the new vehicle.
New experience of Ganesh
Ganesh expressed his newfound mobility and confidence, saying, “Recently, I had to deliver on the 10th floor at Ambattur. I did not request that the customer come down. I removed the front wheel and entered the lift, which could accommodate the wheelchair. The customer was extremely pleased. I, too, had a good time, and the customer was pleased.”
Motorised wheelchair given wings to dreams of another disabled men
Several kilometres away Rajaram, who is orthopedically challenged as a result of Polio, has joined Zomato’s delivery by cycle category. He zips through northern Chennai feeding the hungry. He claims that this motorised wheelchair has given his dreams wings. His income has increased by 9,000.
“With this income, I’d be able to manage my monthly rent and any additional expenses,” he says. He continues, “On the new experience, when I carry my food delivery bag, people appreciate it. They look at me proudly. I notice a significant difference between how they looked at me earlier and now “.
Motorised wheelchair was founded by three IIT Madras students
NeoMotion Assistive Solutions Pvt Ltd was founded by three IIT Madras students and a faculty member. Their customised rugged vehicle has a top speed of 25 kilometres per hour. It takes 4 hours to charge and can travel 25 kilometres on a single charge. The team hopes that this will lead to many new opportunities.
Cost of the motorized wheelchair
The two-in-one vehicle costs nearly a lakh rupees. The founders are now forming corporations in order for their CSR funds to fund and empower differently-abled people who cannot afford the cost but can benefit from it. Around 1300 vehicles have been supplied by the start-up. Around 300 of these vehicles have received corporate sponsorship. Responding to what drew them to solve the problems of the differently-abled community while avoiding lucrative corporate jobs.
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.