Getting Around Lagos Just Got Easier with the AI Bot, Lara.ng

One big challenge every Lagosian has had to battle with is transportation. In fact, there are far too many things to worry about concerning transportation in Lagos –from traffic to directions to fares, the worries never end. But what if there was someone you could always consult to get directions and fare prices, wouldn’t that be awesome? Well, that’s where the AI Bot, Lara comes in.

Lara is an artificial intelligence bot that gives you directions via public transportation (Buses, Keke, Taxis, LagBus) to and from anywhere in Lagos. Created by Road Preppers (RP) Technologies, the detailed, chat-based bot provides users with step-by-step directions, fare estimations, and alternative means of transportation around Lagos.

Typically, getting to unfamiliar grounds in Lagos would require you asking friends and family members for directions. People who are more tech-savvy ones could use google maps for directions. But in emergency situations, you probably ask from strangers –which is not so comfortable and safe. However, with Lara, users get public transit directions on-demand, 24/7.

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Here’s How Lara Works?

Lara.ng is web-based app for smartphone users and can be saved to your homepage. Lara interface imitates the popular chat app, WhatsApp, making it a familiar, non-complex experience for users. Users are to discuss with Lara.ng as they would with family and friends, thus, creating an interactive experience.

All users have to do is head on to Lara.ng, type in the directions they need in the format of “From Point A to Point B” and Lara comes up with directions, fares and an option to book for a ride from the likes of Uber and Taxify. That’s it–easy to use without any need for special commands!

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Should users get lost, they can make use of GPS location for directions from where they are to their destination. Users can also search for popular events to attend and get directions/registered for the events.

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Lara is Cool, but Has its Cons

When I used Lara for the first time, I was amazed but I almost got in trouble because of the estimated fares. The estimated price I got was about N250 short of what I ended up spending, which almost made me trek back home, thank God for ATMs.

From Akowonjo to Oshodi for a very long time now has been N200
From Akowonjo to Oshodi for a very long time now has been N200

Now, though transportation fares in Lagos are not static, they can be better predicted. They should be a regular review of the prices or better still, have people report hiked prices after their experiences and review them over a period of time.

Location on PC shows me in Lekki, whereas i'm on the Mainland.
Location on PC shows me in Lekki, whereas I’m on the Mainland.

Another hitch is currently, the use of GPS location for directions from PC is inaccurate but works perfectly on Phones.

On the normal Taxiffy app, from Akowonjo to Maryland fare prices at about N1800 - N2200.
On the normal Taxiffy app, from Akowonjo to Maryland fare prices at about N1800 – N2200.

Also, the ride-sharing feature keeps showing the same absurd fare price for Taxify, no matter the distance. And nothing shows for the Uber option.

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My Take on Lara

After using the platform and its features, Lara is really impressive as it met some of my expectations. It provides the local approach that even Google Maps and other mapping tools do not give in terms of public transit and estimation of fares. Although Lagos is currently the centre of attraction, but having Lara help me out with other states would really be cool.

That said, there are still a lot of improvements to be made. For example, Lara asks users to ‘Walk to Destination’ after its estimations, but for someone going to a new place, the question is, ‘where am I walking to?’ An ntegration with some google systems to provide users with site/bus-stop pictures and directions to the place would really help with this.

However, Lara is a great direction bot that makes moving around Lagos easier for both current and incoming residents. You can head out to Lara.ng to check it out.


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