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From Rickshaw To Mobile Workspace: Meet The Maker Auto

Picture of Sridevi Nambiar
Updated: 21 September 2016
We have been noticing maker culture slowly sinking into Mumbai over the past few years. But the pace of this phenomenon is going to be ramped up significantly as a mobile design lab hits the city’s streets this month. Coby Unger, a maker and designer originally from Rhode Island in the United States, in collaboration with India’s largest maker space, Maker’s Asylum in Andheri, has come up with what is probably the city’s first mobile workspace – the Maker Auto.

The team converted a three-wheeled auto rickshaw into a fully functional mobile workspace, carrying four folding work benches individually equipped with woodworking, metal working and other tools. Neither Unger nor his team on the project had much experience working on an automobile. They purchased the rickshaw off of OLX and figured, with the help of Autodesk software, how to most efficiently utilize the limited space available inside the vehicle. The resulting Maker Auto has two seats in the front for a driver and co-passenger, just like a regular rickshaw, but has four folding benches where the passenger seat would be. Along with the four benches are drawers equipped with drills, saws, screwdrivers and a host of other tools.

Prior to moving to Mumbai to work with Maker’s Asylum’s team of designers, engineers, carpenters and educators for the project, Unger was in Pondicherry working with an organization called Prakti to come up with a more efficient and cost-effective cooking stove. Among the several other accomplishments under his belt is a prosthetic superhero arm for kids that he designed while in California.

In flying colors. #MakerAuto #AUIN2016

A photo posted by Coby (@cobyunger) on

With the auto, Unger and the Maker’s Asylum team hopes to cultivate and bring attention to the maker movement in the country. With a strong belief that anyone can be a maker, and that making things is empowering, as well as a commitment to change the country’s poor attitude towards handiwork – associating it with low wages and status etc – the Maker Auto team seeks to spread the subculture within the country’s residents. With these goals in mind, the mobile lab will soon be making the rounds in the state of Maharashtra, hosting educational workshops, projects and classes.

The team plans to conduct these workshops in partnership with local community groups, organizations or nonprofits who cater specifically to their mission. For example, they may build public furniture, or a playground if collaborating with a neighborhood association etc. Workshops are free and open to the public.