- Genrobotic Innovations has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Brabo for bulk production of the sewer cleaning robot Bandicoot.
- It will help the start-up to ensure high production standards and meet the rising demand for Bandicoot to phase out manual sewer cleaning across the country.
- Brabo Robotics and Automation Limited, owned by Tata Brabo, is India’s first indigenous robot manufacturing company, and a 100% subsidiary of Tata Motors Limited.
What is Bandicoot?
- It is a semi-automatic robotic system for manhole and sewer line cleaning developed by Genrobotics, a start-up in Kerala.
- The spider-looking Bandicoot has four limbs and a bucket system.
- The limbs can go inside the manhole, scoop the garbage and pull it out, sparing human beings doing the job under hazardous conditions.
- 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.
- It is the first Robotic scavenger in the world developed with a vision to eliminate manual scavenging from the society.
- Kerala government officially launched the robot in February 2018, ahead of the famous Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram.
- It has already been leveraged by more than six states in the country.
- The updated version of the robot, Bandicoot 2.0, has upgraded to a smart operations assistant and also has a 7-machine vision to operate with surgical precision.
- It has a sensor to identify poisonous gas emanating from the manhole. The smart assistant helps the user to operate the device more easily and helps in unclogging the waste akin to human arms.
- Higher resistance to corrosion and water, and a light-weight carbon fibre body are the other added features.
- The updated version was launched by PM Modi and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in October, 2018.
- According to the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, 88 workers have died while cleaning sewers and drains across the country in the last three years.
- According to Delhi-based Safai Karamchari Andolan, an organization campaigning for eradicating manual scavenging, around 1,850 people have died in the last decade while cleaning sewers,
- Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.
- In spite of this, manual scavenging is still a persistent problem across the country.
- Without an alternative solution to clogged manholes, workers will keep getting employed to carry out this hazardous job.
- In this scenario, Bandicoot that can replace humans involved in manual scavenging assumes great significance.
- Genrobotics, promoted by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), was established in 2015.
- The firm aims at finding solutions to the most pressing social issues through robotics.
- It seeks to stamp out the practice of manual scavenging from India by 2020.
- The firm has embarked on a movement called #mission robohole, which is about changing manholes to roboholes, replacing men from the manholes with robots.
[Source: The Hindu, India Today]