Startup to test sewer-cleaning robots in Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Startup to test sewer-cleaning robots in Kerala, Tamil Nadu

Two months after the Kerala-based startup Genrobotics developed Bandicoot, a robot that cleans sewer holes, the company is set to roll out five more robots, including ones for pilot projects planned in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Founders of the startup, who envisaged Bandicoot as a project that could end the practice of manual scavenging, have been invited to present the robot in the two states.

Of the five new robots, one each would be used in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, two would be handed over to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and one to the Cochin International Airport Limited.

Bandicoot was launched in Thiruvananthapuram, on an experimental basis, in February.

Genrobotics, founded in 2015 by engineering graduates Arun George, Vimal Govind, NP Nikhil and Ashiq, specialises in powered exoskeletons and human-controlled robotic systems.

The Bandicoot comes with four limbs and a bucket system attached to a spider web-like extension that goes into the sewer, shovels the waste and collects it in the bucket, which is then lifted out. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules.

The robot is powered by pneumatics (using gas or pressurised air) since using heavy electronic equipment inside the manhole is risky as they can react with the explosive gases present in the manhole.

The robot monitors the manholes through pictorial representations, inspects conditions including gaseous information and blocks and then commences the clean-up.

Genrobotics was incubated under the state government-run Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).

The Bandicoot project is funded by the Kerala Financial Corporation and venture capitalist Unicorn India Ventures.

In January, the KWA and KSUM signed a memorandum of understanding for the transfer of technology and products, including the use of robots for cleaning sewer holes.

The company has trained two manhole cleaners on the use of Bandicoot and plans to train 20 more workers on operating the robot.

Genrobotics also plans to equip the robots to respond to commands in Malayalam, an official statement said.

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