CHENNAI: As I enter 14-year-old Athish Hariharan’s home in KK Nagar, a small four-wheeled robot makes its way to the hall, with a sweet box balanced on a tray. With an oil bottle in its right hand and a burnt matchstick on the left, the robot proceeds to light the earthen lamp in a corner of the room.“The robot is controlled through bluetooth on my phone. It can light crackers too. I created it to celebrate a safe Diwali and might introduce the prototype to the public in the future,” said Athish.
The shelves are filled with robots that the 14-year-old has made. Ever since he was 11 years old, Athish has been building robots, and makes themed robots for each festival.“Right from his childhood, he was glued to motors. We would get a remote-controlled car and he would dismantle all the parts in a day. I was amazed one day to see that he made a bike out of a toy car. He was ten years old then, and we soon enrolled him in a robotics class,” said BK Devendran, his father.
Athish’s first robot was for Republic Day in 2011. “The bot could hoist the flag and distribute sweets. Then, I made a Ganesha prototype for Ganesh Chaturthi, which could eat sweets. I’ve also made a soccer player and a sumo wrestler robot. The latter could push other robots outside the way,” he said.On his most challenging and ambitious project so far, Athish said, “Last year, I made an agribot. It is a robot used for agricultural purposes. The main area of application of robots in agriculture today is at the harvesting stage. My robot can plough and sow seeds. Though what I have is a miniature version, I plan on making a full-sized robot in the coming years.”
His fascination for robotics comes from the utility they provide to human life. “I am born in a generation that will soon be controlled by robots. Already, we have robot-operated restaurants and service staff robots, and this is the way ahead for our country. I want to contribute to this in some way,” he said.
Moreover, Athish said he tries to use environmental-friendly products in his robots that could either be reused or recycled. The materials used for his Diwali project include an acrylic chasis, two pairs of BO motor, two pairs of BO wheels, a pair of Servo motors, a bluetooth controller board, a pair of 5-volt power banks, a tray for distributing sweets and a pair of LED lights.“What I am doing now is very minimalist. From next year onwards, I plan on making robots that would directly have an impact on the public,” he said.