He dropped out of school after class 7 and struggled as a welder in rural Rajasthan, but 25-year-old Govind Gehlot didn’t let adversity stand in the way of his dreams.
The son of a poor farmer, Gehlot says he has developed a remote-controlled vehicle, on the lines of Google’s much-vaunted self-driven car.
“I get ideas when I sleep and then I can’t sleep before I have worked on them,” says the young man, who stays away from his wife and two children, 12 and 9 years, to be able to concentrate on his dreams. “I visit them twice a month.”
His father is a peasant while his elder brother has a small welding shop in Mathania, 200 kilometres away.
Gehlot makes Rs 6,000 from his 10 feet-by-4 feet welding shop in Chhayan and spends most of it on his dreams.
He put three months’ earnings on a crude contraption that was fitted into a Maruti Alto car after removing the driver’s seat. The contraption – which looks a mesh of wires and iron plates – has two mobile phones: one for the steering wheel and the other for the pedals.
Gehlot uses two phones in his hand to run this car. With one, he controls the steering wheel, pressing 1 for left and 3 for right turns; and with the other, he presses 5 for the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals. The car runs only in the first gear.
The vehicle can run only within his sight because there’s a three-second lag in transmission of images from the phone in the car to the one in his hand.
When 4G signals become available in his village, he says he will be able to run it to wherever he wants. This is not the first innovative, if somewhat unbelievable, invention by Gehlot.
A few years ago he bought a second-hand motorcycle for Rs 17,000 to use its engine to develop a flying chair. He succeeded in raising it three feet above the ground level but failed to control its balance and gave it up.
Later, he developed a rotating house, 4 feet by 8 feet in size, atop a tree but a storm destroyed it.
He got the inspiration for his contraption from the Google experiment. “I can’t afford a satellite etc but I have an alternative idea – to work with mobile phone signals,” he says. He bought an Alto with his sister’s help and paid EMIs for six years.
“People in the village thought I was mad to be dismantling the car so I worked mostly at nights. This idea didn’t let me sleep. I slept for barely one-two hours until I was through with the system,” he says.
But his dream may never become reality. Auto expert Amit Jain, CEO and co-founder of cardekho.com said he has doubts about the technology’s scalability as Indian roads aren’t fit for such a car. He, however, praised the innovation.
Now, for more than a month, the car has been parked outside his house for lack of a licence for such a vehicle. Govind is hoping his story will reach the Prime Minister’s Office one day and help him in securing funding. “I will then shut my welding business and work fulltime on engineering my ideas.”