Kerala launches Bandicoot, world's first robotic scavenger for manhole cleaning
Manual scavenging is a grim reality of Indian society and poses a huge health risk to those involved. To eliminate this, the Kerala government has launched a robotic scavenger called Bandicoot, which cleans sewage from manholes. The robot has been deployed in the temple town of Guruvayur in the Thrissur district and is providing respite to workers engaged in manhole cleaning.
Why does this story matter?
- Bandicoot is designed and manufactured in India. It is portable, easy to maneuver, and can clean manholes more thoroughly as compared to human beings.
- Every person deserves a clean and safe working environment and this robot makes sure of it.
- Since 2017, 400 people cleaning sewers and septic tanks have died in this country. It is time we take this seriously.
A brief history of the project
Bandicoot was built by Kerala-based Genrobotics. Back in 2018, it was deployed in Thiruvananthapuram to clean manholes, followed by its introduction in Ernakulam, and now Guruvayur. At the Kerala Startup Mission's (KSUM) Huddle Global 2022 conclave, organized in December last year, it received the 'Kerala Pride' award. Now, Kerala is India's first state to use robots to clean all commissioned manholes.
How does Bandicoot work?
Bandicoot has two sections-a stand and a robotic drone unit. The latter is waterproof and enters the manhole to remove sewage using its limbs. The drone also has sensors for detecting harmful gases and HD cameras to make out different objects such as rocks, sand, silt, and sludge. It can dive up to 10 meters and lift up to 125kg at a time.
'Manual scavenging in Kerala has ended'
"With the launch of the project in Guruvayur, manual scavenging in Kerala has ended. Now, Kerala has become the first state in the country to use robotic scavengers to clean manholes," said Water Resources Minister, Roshi Augustine. "The modernization of the sewerage system will help contain the spread of epidemics and serious health challenges caused by them," the minister added.
Robots are also being introduced in temples
Robots have also made their way to temples in Kerala. The Irinjadapilli Sree Krishna Temple in Thrissur has introduced a robotic elephant called Irinjadappilli Raman. It weighs 800kg and can spew water, move its ears and tail, and also carry people on its back. Temple officials believe this will aid them in reducing expenses and also prevent animal cruelty.