Maker Auto





Introduction: Maker Auto

About: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.

The Maker Auto is a mobile maker space lab based in Mumbai India. The goal of the project is to bring the tools, equipment, and most importantly, the inspiration of the maker movement to a larger section of Mumbai's population. The auto is fully equipped with four folding tables and 16 tool boxes filled with a variety of tools. In the very back section of there is room for a 3D or small CNC machine along with a computer and a backup battery system.

Our goal with the auto is to run collaborative workshops with other organizations, schools and companies all over Mumbai. Each workshop will combine the work of the partner organization with the expertise and experience of our team as it pertains to design, art art and making.

Step 1: Design

The primary goal of the project was to provide access to the tools and ideas of the maker movement to individuals and organizations in Mumbai who would not otherwise have access. One important part of that goal was to create a vehicle with an iconic and exciting appearance. From early on in the ideation phase for the project we decided that using the platform of an auto rickshaw would be a familiar and approachable form. We also decided that we would include gull-wing doors would give the auto an extra bit of excitement and wonder.

We used Autodesk Fusion 360 for 3D cad and Adobe Photoshop for the initial concept renderings.

Step 2: Get an Auto

In a country with millions of rickshaws, you wouldn't expect this to be a challenge, but getting our hands on an affordable auto in a good condition was much harder than we thought it would be. After a week or so of searching we found one to buy and drove it back to the Maker's Asylum to start work immediately.

Step 3: Cut It Up

After getting the auto to the workshop it was time to start cutting immediately. We removed the flatbed and frame in the rear, as well as the floor in the cab and other rusty components. Angel grinders reigned king in this phase of the project.

Step 4: Hoist

The main workshop for the Maker's Asylum is on the second floor of the building, so we hired a crane to lift it up though a big rollup door.

Step 5: Fix

The auto was not completely without mechanical problems, so before getting to work on the body of the vehicle. The main lesson for this stage of the project was to bring in experts when we got in too deep. Big thanks to the professional mechanics who came in to help us out.

Step 6: Skeleton

I keeping with the traditional style of auto rickshaws we decided to use a fabric covered frame to cover the tool area. The main curved sections of the frame are built from stock rickshaw canopy frames. Extra pieces were cut from steel tube and bent to fit.

We also installed a new steel floor and a rack for storing the tables.

Step 7: Paint

Much of the sanding for the auto was done in house, but we outsourced the painting to a professional shop down the road.

Step 8: Upholstury

The upholstery of the auto was another area where our team lacked expertise, so we had a local expert help us out.

Step 9: Waterproofing

For waterproofing we used a modified car door sealant strip riveted through the fabric to the frame.

Step 10: Graphics

Graphic decals were printed on vinyl stickers and cut by hand to fit on the auto just before it's first public appearance.

Step 11: Tables

The tables were also designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and cut by hand with a jig saw and hand router. Each of the four tables folds up for storage in the back of the auto. The steel parts were bent at a sheet metal fabricator and fit sock plastic bins for tool storage.

Step 12: Tools

The auto is outfitted with soldering irons, drills, Dremel tools, saws, glue guns, and a multitude of other hand tools as well as a 3D Systems Cube 3D printer.

Step 13: Present

Before the auto ever hit the road we were on stage at Autodesk University India 2016 for the official launch event. We also presented it at the Bangalore Mini Maker Faire, and have plans to present at IIT Tech Fest in Mumbia next month. Workshops also start very soon.



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    28 Discussions

    I agree completely. I'd like to find a grant to do something like this for my library. A fuel powered one would be much more preferable.

    1 reply

    Glad you like it. Would be great to see one for a library.

    Hehe this is just bike type riksha, see some more bikes here:

    Thanks Randy. Hope you are doing well in New York.

    Miss you Paolo. Give a high five and a hug to the next Pier9er you see for me please.

    Miss you too! High fives are hard to give right now at the pier, given what happened yesterday, but hugs are needed and given all around.

    This is great!!.. You guys are lucky that you can have a Tuk-Tuk... We can't use them on the street here in the USA.. It would be too good of a thing..

    5 replies

    I love Tuk-Tuks (auto rickshaws), and I think my fascination with them was a bit of a bewilderment to many of my Indian friends. We definitly do need something smaller than a car, but safer than a motorcyle in the US.

    No longer completely accurate. One company seems to have found a way. Look like they would work for this. Though likely quite a bit more pricey.

    Thanks for the heads up.. I would prefer a fuel powered model instead of being forced to use an electric one.. But still a step in the right direction..

    I agree completely. I'd like to find a grant to do something like this for my library. A fuel powered one would be much more preferable.

    They could be imported from India.. Dealerships can be set up for sales and service.. On the other hand, I am sure the auto companies would kill this.. Along with the politicos.. Just a dream of mine for a long time... A Tuk-Tuk would fill a needed niche in the transportation in cities..

    Great idea. We've been running repair workshops in fixed locations but having everything mobile would be helpful.

    Depending how much you need to carry, a bigger or smaller vehicle might be more suitable. Our stuff could fit easily onto a pedal-powered load carrier: a longbike or a trike because we mostly use handtools. Give it electric assist if necessary but there is no need to pine for a tuk-tuk.

    As Coby points out, the tuk-tuk is familiar and iconic in Mumbai but that is not the case in places outside of southern and southeast Asia. Other vehicles may have that status in your community. (VW Kombis used to be that in the US, for instance, although most are too old to be driven regularly now)

    1 reply

    Glad you liked the project. Like you said, the vehicle was chosen largely for the iconography and popularity, but also because of it's size and convenience. I have seen similar projects done on pedal powered tricycles and in vans and busses in the US.

    Thanks for the support,


    Great work! There are tons of use cases for something like this in such a huge city. From educating students to collaborations with other local maker spaces and providing on-site demonstrations and training to local companies who want to add 3D printers or low-cost CNC mills to their workflow (and maybe become project sponsors in the process).

    1 reply