Manhole cleaning robot gets 9th Anjani Mashelkar innovation award
GenRobotics Innovation Pvt. Ltd. which has developed ‘Bandicoot’, a robot that cleans manholes remotely using robotic arms and computer vision, has been selected for the 9th Anjani Mashelkar Inclusive Innovation Award.
The award, instituted by the Anjani Mashelkar Foundation which rewards and recognizes innovations focused on creating value for the society in the areas of science, technology and innovation (STI), will be presented on November 17 by eminent industrialist Ratan Tata.
It will be presented at the 7th National Conference on Social Innovation organised by Pune International Centre, a pressnote issued by the foundation said.
This innovation has the potential to eliminate the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, noted scientist RA Mashelkar, said on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The award was instituted in 2011 under the aegis of International Longevity Centre – India, by Mashelkar, in the memory of his mother.
The aim of the award is to recognise innovators who develop solutions for excluded members of society. “For the last nine years, the award has focussed on making high technology work for the poor,” Mashelkar said about the award.
Mashelkar pointed out that just two weeks ago the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Government on the issue of the plight of manual scavengers by saying that “Sewers are gas chambers where manual scavengers are sent to die”. He noted that manual scavenging – in cities, often visible as manhole cleaning – is considered one of the worst professions in the world and the working and living conditions of scavengers are appalling.
“Most manual scavengers don’t live beyond the age of 30,” he pointed out.
The press note issued by the foundation recalled that Gandhi, who is known to have said ‘sanitation is more important than political freedom’, had established just one college, and that was for scavengers, in Gandhi Ashram.
According to the foundation, the breakthrough innovation by GenRobotics, which has already started deployment in some states, is capable of creating inclusion of lakhs of scavengers and their families who suffer from social oppression and extreme exclusion.
The robot 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 get employed in the high technology sector, thus giving back to them and their future generations, dignity, the press note said.