NIT-R alumni innovate robotics solution for underwater inspections
Classmates Debendra Pradhan and Biswajit Swain quit their plum jobs to launch a startup that has been providing customised solutions in the field of underwater robotics, writes Prasanjeet Sarkar
ROURKELA: For a country like India, inspection and operation of underwater infrastructure including dams, bridges and port structures continues to be challenging in the absence of effective technological solutions. Two young alumni of the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela (NIT-R) and three of their batchmates are trying to bridge this technology gap by innovating affordable solutions in the underwater robotics domain.
Debendra Pradhan and Biswajit Swain, both aged 27, founded Coratia Technology Pvt Ltd (CTPL) six months back to change the dynamics of underwater civil infrastructure inspection with faster and safer outcomes. Under the startup, they have developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) by employing advanced technologies like sonar scanning, bathymetry, 3D mapping and other AI-based technologies.
The founders said India currently has just about four startups in the field of underwater robotics with CTPL being one among them. “Underwater robotics domain is most challenging with low market demand as of now due to high finance, cost and risk,” said Debendra, a mechanical engineer who quit his plum job with the R&D wing of the Mercedes Benz in Germany and returned to India to start CTPL with his NIT-R classmate Biswajit.
Biswajit, an engineer in mechantronics and automation, also left his well paying job in the R&D wing of Development Alternatives in South Africa. Interested in the underwater robotics domain, they launched CTPL in 2021 and roped in their 2017 batchmates, Swostik Rout, Yogesh PraRajapati and Omprkash Patra as core members. Swostik, Yogesh and Omprakash are BTech graduates in electrical, chemical and computer science respectively.
“Since underwater robotics is a least explored domain with vast potential, we saw great future in it. Our startup focuses on the newest technologies of Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics to produce superior outcomes in dynamic stability, maneuverability and analytics compared to other available robots,” said Biswajit.
The CTPL incubated at the Foundation for Technology & Business Incubation (FTBI) of NIT-R is engaged in developing and providing customised solutions and consultancy services in the field of underwater robotics. It envisages enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructures like dams, bridges, docks, ports and industrial liquid and gas containers through sustainable technologies.
They said during case studies they found mandatory inspection of critical areas of underwater structures is either skipped or end up with unsatisfactory results due to non-availability of technology, resources and solutions. CTPL is improving on autonomous NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) technology which would be used by the AUV and RUV to change the dynamics of underwater civil infrastructure inspection with faster and safer outcomes, he said.
The team has already got its first commercial assignment. It will inspect one sluice gate of the Mandira dam of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL as it is suspected to have developed some structural deformity and causing blockage.
The startup has also won multiple recognitions in the last six months. Not only has it been named among Top-100 startups in the UK-India Tech Startup Launchpad, but also won the NXP Tech Startup Challenge 2022 of the Ministry of Commerce & Industries and a Dutch company NXP Semiconductors. CTPL won the Chunati 2.0 (NextGen Start-up Challenge) of the Ministry of IT & Electronics and bagged the NIDHI EIR grant of the Ministry of Science & Technology.