Big Idea

Super Scavenger

Kerala-based start-up Genrobotics has designed robots to clear manholes and drains, and municipalities are signing on as clients

RA Chandroo

In big cities, apart from gleaming glass buildings and fast cars, it is quite common to see a manual scavenger gingerly stepping into an overflowing manhole to unblock it. He trowels out the sludge — of kitchen waste, plastic and human excreta — while inhaling toxic gases and wading through infected liquid waste. Although a ban on this practice was imposed way back in 1993 it still continues unaffectedly. Thus, to put an end to this, a Thiruvananthapuram-based start-up Genrobotics has come up with a solution. Its four-member team has built a 50-kg robot, named Bandicoot, which can clean up a manhole in 20-45 minutes. A manual attempt usually takes around three hours.