KSUM, KWA Sign MoU to End Manual Scavenging of Sewer Holes

Destination-Kerala-Startup Mission

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) have signed an MoU for transfer of technology and products including robots for cleaning sewer holes, thereby ending the age-old practice of manual scavenging. Under the MoU signed between Kerala Water Innovation Zone under KWA and KSUM at the Chief Minister’s Office the other day, a robot named ‘Bandicoot,’ developed by startup firm GenRobotics, will be used for cleaning sewer holes. ‘Bandicoot’ will start its work by cleaning sewer holes in the city during Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram in March.

The robot has four limbs and a bucket system attached to a spider web-looking extension, which can go inside the manhole. After shoveling the heap of garbage at the bottom of the manhole, it will be collected using the bucket system before being lifted upward. It also has Wi-Fi and bluetooth modules.

Pinarayi Vijayan, State Chief Minister; Mathew T Thomas, Minister for Water Resources; M Sivasankar IAS, IT Secretary; Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM ; Tom Jose IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Water Resources; KWA officials and eight representatives from GenRobotics were present on the occasion.

The KSUM had funded the project of GenRobotics, which conducted a field study to find a solution to the age-old practice of manual scavenging. Meanwhile, the KWA also was conducting research on the issue following the Chief Minister’s instruction to find a remedy for it.

GenRobotics is planning to market the product within six months. It has already got enquiries from States like Tamil Nadu to take it to the national-level. Founded in 2015, GenRobotics specialises in powered exoskeletons and human-controlled robotic systems. The robot is powered by pneumatics (using gas or pressurised air) since using heavy electronic equipment inside is risky as they can react with the explosive gases present in the manhole.