Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fare for Bangalore: A tamper-proof meter for autos

Fare for Bangalore: A tamper-proof meter for autos

Bangalore-based firm's digital auto meter can fix the fight over fares but can it end the autocracy?

BK Lakshmikantha & Aparajita Ray Bangalore

Okay, the new fares are unfair and the digital auto meters will take time to get used to them, but what about tampered meters?
Bangalore Automobiles, a city-based firm, has a solution: A tamper-proof digital auto meter. The meter has been approved by Delhi's Legal Metrology Forum as well as the transport department. The digital meter, called Bright Fare Meter (BFM), shuts down completely if the auto driver tries to 'fix' it. It's impossible to tamper with this meter.
What makes the BFM special is its integrated circuit (IC) and an erasable programmable read only memory (Eprom) – a memory chip that retains its data when the power supply is switched off. Both are merged into a single unit and are coded. "The IC and the Eprom are synchronised. So firstly, the Eprom cannot be removed; even if it is, the new data or code will not synchronise with those of the IC, and the meter will automatically stop working," said R Somashekhar, Bangalore Automobiles owner.
In regular digital meters, where both IC and Eprom are separate components, drivers replace the Eprom or the IC with another carrying altered data to fix the meter. The digital meters are tweaked for a mere Rs500 at garages in Kalasipalyam, Shivaji Nagar and Magadi Road.
Somashekhar said his BFM was released in January 2010 on a trial basis and was installed on 200 autorickshaws. They have been doing really good.


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