Thiruvananthapuram, August 14 2019: Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka governments show interest in Kerala startup’s ‘Bandicoot’ robot that cleans manholes
Bandicoot, is the world’s first robotic scavenger, to clean the manholes and stamp out the obnoxious practice of manual scavenging.
The pneumatic-powered, remote-controlled robot was developed in early 2018 by four young engineering graduates. The 50-kg machine, on being sent down a manhole, would remove sewage by spreading its robotic arm capable of 360-degree motion. Designed with the help of Google launch pad, Bandicoot is easy to operate, equipped as it is with a user-friendly interface.
Developed by Genrobotic Innovations, a Kerala-based startup that specializes in advanced robotics, AI and machine learning, Bandicoot is currently being implemented in five states -- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat. This startup is supported by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.
The visits by officials of Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra to the company’s premises in Thiruvananthauram was prompted by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman making a reference in her budget speech to the innovative robotic sanitation technology developed by the Kerala startup that can eliminate manual scavenging from across the country.
A team of officials from Nagpur Municipal Corporation, comprising its Deputy Mayor and chairmen of the Standing Committee, Health Committee and Water Works, visited the company late last month to get a first hand information of Bandicoot, a spider-shaped robot that can replace manual cleaning of manholes through robotic technology. Earlier this month, officials from the Karnataka State Commission of Safai Karamcharis, including J.K. Manjunath, Deputy Director, and Roshan Kumar, Assistant Director, visited the company’s headquarters to apprise themselves of the technology. In the last week of July, Delhi Minister for Social Welfare Rajendra Pal Gautam had visited Genrobotics at its Thiruvananthapuram premises, taking forward the administration’s move to deploy the semi-automatic Bandicoot.
The device has made “a really significant impact” in the elimination of manual scavenging, according to a study, saying the robot has succeeded in drastic reduction of the social menace in places it has been implemented.
Currently, a team of the 2015-founded Genrobotics is working with several states of India and also with some administrations abroad to make sanitation a robotic activity that is safe, easy and dignifying for those cleaning underground conduits carrying drainage water and waste matter.
India has around 4.5 million scavengers engaged in this high risk task of cleaning sewage manholes and septic tanks manually.