SmartCart- Here’s Something To Make A “Thela” Vendor’s Life Easier

Posted on March 13, 2013 in Specials

By Ayushi Sareen:

There is no doubt that the GenX is indeed a talented generation. They have been excelling in every walk of life. One such example is of Antardhvani 2013- DU’s Annual Festival. The Innovation Centre was probably the best part of the entire fest that went on for three consecutive days. All colleges of the university came up with mind-boggling and smart innovations that not only benefited the society, but the environment as well.


One such innovation was Jesus and Mary College’s SmartCart, in collaboration with Henri Fanthome Office for Architecture. A team of 10 students and 3 teacher-in-charges’ started working on a project titled “Street Vendors: Traffic Hazards or Service Providers?” in June 2012. They surveyed about 1200 vendors in 10 markets of Delhi, asking them about their economic, social and legal aspects. They zeroed in on 6 problems faced by the current “thela” vendors:

– Lack of space for storage
– Lack of security for the goods sold
– No mechanism for garbage disposal
– Short shelf life
– No area for displaying the goods
– No shelter

This led to one of their four innovations taking the form of SmartCart. This SmartCart has a lot of features that make it a better design than the existing carts. These features are:

– Space for storage
– Facility for locking
– Eco friendly
– Long shelf life of 20 years
– Not product specific
– Space for display
– Dismantling possible
– Adjustable height

smart cart

The design will also incorporate the feature of solar panels for energy provision. The “long shelf life” feature does stand out. Questions about its long term feasibility are raised. The team answered, “Bamboo mats are extremely resilient, and the metal frame gives it the permanent structure which helps guarantee its long life. Moreover, we have ensured that all material that we use in the cart is such that it can survive the harsh weather conditions- be it the sweltering heat of Delhi or the unending rainfall experienced in the months of July and August.”

The team is also working on making this cart more compact. Currently, the cart uses a lot of space horizontally. In a manner analogical to the way you see skyscrapers in Hong Kong and New York, the team is planning to vertically enhance the space that a cart has and reduce the physical space occupied on land. They are trying to utilize the vertical space by adding more shelves to the initial design. “We plan to add more features like a seat which is attached to the cart, a money box where one can store money during a working day, a locking system for wheels and a bulb working on rechargeable batteries or a turbine like system.” the team said.

smart cart

However some of these plans are expected to increase the cost of the cart too much and they prefer it to be an affordable model and hence are still searching for alternatives that can serve the purpose and not lead to escalation of costs.

The cost? Yes, many of you will say that this is going to be an expensive innovation if the idea is adopted. But, you’ll be amazed to know this is not so. The materials used in this cart are such that they are cheap and yet durable. The main components of the cart are bamboo mats. The bamboo mats are cheaply available and bamboo has a long shelf life besides being eco friendly. The material used for holding together the structure is metallic but hollow which makes it strong and yet light-weight. Hence, taking all factors into account, such a cart will cost strictly under Rs. 9000.

Initially, the thought that this innovation is more ideal than realistic, did come to my mind, but then again, every innovation is first looked upon as ideal and a little unbelievable. “Our cart is an innovation that aims to benefit all parts of society. It helps urban planning much better as it standardizes size and the kind of space an average vendor would occupy. Plus, our innovation is a first step along a path that requires much innovation, more improvement, many more ideas and a lot of adaption. We are working on that as well. This, however, is the first step that shall work as a guide for future work in this arena.” the team said, justifying their creation.

The team of Jesus and Mary College is in talks with Ajay Makan, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA). They have sent him a brief about the basic features of the cart and plan to send him the blue prints and possibly invite him over for the inauguration of the cart once it is patented. It is expected to happen within the month of March.