Robotics & Automation News

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Indian government to replace sewage workers with robots by 2020

An Indian company called GenRobotics has developed a range of robots to undertake work down manholes and in sewage environments, and has been receiving orders from a number of states in its home country as well as many places abroad. 

GenRobotics was launched in relatively quiet circumstances in 2015, but then, last year, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, was in attendance at the launch of the company’s second-generation robots.

Malaysia and the UAE are among the outside nations from which orders have been received for GenRobotics machines, and they join Indian states such as Tamil Nadu, in the south, and Haryana, in the north of the massive country of more than 1 billion people.

GenRobotics products include:

  • the Bandicoot Robot, which features a high-resolution camera with night vision, sensors to detect gas and noxious substances, and machine learning to enable continual improvement of operation;
  • the Manhole Monitoring System, which is a pair of devices – one installed inside a manhole and another stationary nearby – which can send alerts to smartphones about a range of data about the condition of the manhole;  and
  • the G-Robotic Suit, which more of an exhibition piece, looking like a boxy Iron Man, designed to be worn by a human like a suit or exoskeleton and can be used for heavy lifting or awkward work.

The company says its mission is to “provide better and safer methods to people, using robotics and artificial intelligence for working with extreme and unsafe environments for the welfare of mankind”.

While it may sound somewhat ambitious, in a country where a significant health hazards are created by poorly designed sewerage systems – wherein some workers actually die – GenRobotics may be able to provide an alternative to traditional ways of doing things.

The company sold approximately 20 robots in one single order placed by a local authority, and with such a large country, a similar number for each local authority would provide GenRobotics with a healthy cash flow.

GenRobotics’ co-founder Rashid K told New Indian Express that he met with a minister from New Delhi who said the government wants to do away with manual scavenging – work inside manholes and sewers.

“The aim is to eliminate manual scavenging by 2020,” said Rashid. “We’re implementing a step-by-step approach.”