In March, the Kerala government will soon be utilising the services of robots to clean the sewer holes in the state. The robots have been developed by a startup company called Genrobotics. The project is supported by Kerala Water Authority (KWA), which has joined hands with Kerala start-up mission to transform new ideas into practical technologies for addressing issues relating to pipe leakage and sanitation. Named ‘Bandicoot’, the robots are equipped with Wi-Fi, bluetooth and control panels. They have four limbs and a bucket system attached to a spider web looking extension to scoop out the waste from sewers. It will be initiated in Thiruvananthapuram, where there are 5000 manholes. The trials are going on in the state capital and is aimed at the complete elimination of manual scavenging.
The robots have been developed by a nine-member group comprising youngsters from varying engineering streams. They have given up their steady jobs to find a solution to end manual scavenging in an effort to bring in some resemblance of dignity to the lives of those, who put in endless effort to clean the sewers for a meager amount ranging between Rs 300- 500. The team of youngsters took 7-8 months to design the semi-automatic robot and nearly 30 kg of garbage was pulled out by the robot during the trials. While testing, a robot cleaned four manholes within an hour. The impact of this product is that it would bring about a significant change in maintaining proper hygiene and ensuring a well-working drainage system. It would be of a great help in areas that face major water logging during incessant rains. Apparently, accidents caused by manholes can be reduced. It could, however, lead to the loss of the source of livelihood for those who make a living out of cleaning the drains. (Also read: Hi-Tech Robotic to expand global footprint for AI-based driver behavior sensor)
However, according to the Chief Operating Officer of the start-up company, their plan is to train the existing workers to operate the robot, which is as easy to operate as a remote-controlled toy car. Though all the commands in the user interface are English, they can be converted to any local language for easy understanding. The robots will start their operations by cleaning the sewer holes in the city on March 2, 2018, during a state festival ‘Attukal Pongala’.