THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Machines will be taking over the responsibility of cleaning the sewer holes in the city before Attukal pongala next month. Bandicoot, a semiautomatic robotic system developed by a Technopark startup GenRobotics, will take up the dirty job which was hitherto done by a section of people out of compulsion. The budget presented by Finance Minister Thomas Isaac found mention of the company formed by a group of engineers passed out from MES Kuttipuram.
The Bandicoot has four limbs and a bucket system attached to a spider web looking extension, which can go inside the manhole. The heap of garbage from the bottom of the manhole is shovelled into the bucket system which is then lifted up. It also has WiFi and Bluetooth modules. The Bandicoot can perform the work of five human beings within minutes and is available in automatic and semi-automatic modes. It never limits the job opportunities for sewer workers, rather develops their mode of living, said the company statement.
Founded in 2015, GenRobotics specializes in powered exoskeletons and human-controlled robotic systems. The robot is powered by pneumatics (using gas or pressurised air) since using heavy electronic equipment inside is risky as they can react with the explosive gases present in the manhole.
Finance Minister heaped praise on the team for solving a difficult social issue with the help of technology. “I am sure there will be demand for this robot across the country. Today’s startups will rule tomorrow’s world,” said Isaac. He was so impressed with the startups that he gave an allocation of Rs 80 crore to Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), a nodal agency of the government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.
The KSUM had funded for the project by Genrobotics, which conducted a field study to find a solution and a public sector oil company gave support. The engineers visited Taiwan to study the functioning of similar systems. Kerala Water Innovation Zone under KWA and KSUM have signed an MOU for transfer of technology and products including the use of robots for cleaning up sewer holes. Genrobotics is planning to market the product within six months. It has already received enquiries from states like Tamil Nadu and plans to take it to the national level.