Thiruvananthapuram: Bandicoot robot cleans with elan

Published Feb 15, 2018, 3:15 am IST
Updated Feb 15, 2018, 3:15 am IST
Trials runs show tough cleaner winning.
A trial run of the Bandicoot robot in progress at Thiruvananthapuram.
 A trial run of the Bandicoot robot in progress at Thiruvananthapuram.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Loads of plastics, sanitary napkins, diapers, medical waste like plaster of Paris and syringes have greeted Bandicoot, sewerage cleaning robot, during its trial runs in the city during the last two days.

“The kinds of stuff inside the sewers were beyond our imaginations. But Bandicoot could pull it out without any difficulty,” said Vimal Govind, chief executive officer and product architect of Genrobotics, the startup form formed by a group of young engineers that developed the robot.


On the first day, Bandicoot entered four manholes and cleared the drains. It took only around one hour. On the second day, the trial was more challenging as a very old utility hole was the mission. But Bandicoot could execute it with ease. The trial runs were near Thiruva-nanthapuram Medical College area.

All the manholes are of different shapes and structures. While some have a round-shaped opening, some have the square shape. Iron rods are also protruding in many to enable the manual scavengers to enter it. But these were not obstacles for the spider-shaped robot as it could enter them clearing the obstacles. 

“Bandicoot has been designed to suit all types of manholes,” said Mr Govind.
He said that on seeing the stuff inside the drains, his team felt more respect to those doing manual scavenging. “It is high time that the society is sensitised against dumping plastics, napkins, diapers and medical other non-degradable waste in sewerage,” said Mr Govind adding that he was even unable to take food as he felt like puking.

Bandicoot, which would be pressed into service in the city from next week, would be initially concentrating on cleaning the drains in and around Attukal and the Attukal Pongala festival is coming up.

The actions of the robot inside the hole could be controlled with the help of a monitor and control panel. 

“It is easy to use the robot, and even those who are not engaged in manual scavenging could be easily trained to use it,” he said.

Global recognition for robot before launch

Even before its formal launch, ‘Bandicoot’ has received national and international attention.

The young engineers who developed the manhole cleaning robot have been invited by the ministry of drinking water and sanitation for a presentation at a national consultative workshop on solid and liquid waste management to be held in New Delhi on February 22 and 23.

This apart, Genrobotics, the startup firm under Kerala Startup Mission that developed the robot, is also learnt to be getting enquiries from foreign countries like the US.

According to sources, the Centre may even consider the promoting the innovative robot under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The highlight of Bandicoot is that it could put an end to manual scavenging.

Genrobotics chief executive officer Vimal Govind said that the firm was also getting queries from other states as well as countries like US.