Manual scavenging – in cities, often visible as manhole cleaning – is one of the worst professions in the world. Not only are the working and living conditions of scavengers appalling, they also have dire consequences on their health and livelihood. In India, four or five people die on the job every month, most manual scavengers don’t live beyond the age of 30. For them and their families, social oppression and extreme exclusion have been long-standing issues.
Like most of their peers, Genrobotics founders graduated from college and started working in different corporate jobs. However, the jobs never satisfied their internal urge to bring about real change by innovating. Eventually, they quit their jobs and formally started Genrobotic Innovations Pvt. Ltd in 2017. Their aim was to study the potential of technology and harness it to address various societal problems. During that time, a manhole accident took place in Kerala killing three people, including the person who tried to help the two sanitation workers. At that moment, the Genrobotics team realised that there is no technological solution to mitigate manual scavenging. They decided to take up the mission to develop a robotic technology that can eliminate human intervention for manhole cleaning with human level flexibility.
GenRobotics’ innovation is a robot called ‘Bandicoot’ that cleans manholes remotely using robotic arms and computer vision. It uses pneumatic and electric actuators, infrared cameras, sensors and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites (CFRP). This robot can do all the tasks that a man can inside the manhole, is remotely operated and can clean up to ten manholes a day. Manual scavengers will not lose their jobs as they are being rehabilitated to become robot operators and be employed in the high technology sector, thus giving back to them and their future generations, dignity.
Bandicoot is successfully serving in different states of India including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Assam. In addition, 160+ sanitation workers have been trained to be robot operators and thousands of sanitation workers have undergone their rehabilitation programme. Bandicoot has been successfully deployed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Surat Municipal Corporation, Dhule Municipal Corporation, Muktsar Sahib Municipal Council in Punjab, Thanjavur Municipal Corporation, Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, etc. They have gone international and signed an MoU with the Dubai municipality to robotize their sanitation sector.
Vimal Govind is Co-Founder, CEO & Product Architect at Genrobotic Innovations Robotic design engineer and product architect.
Co-Founder and Director at Genrobotic Innovations with a history of working in the software industry, management academies and several organizations.
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