Bandicoot, a remotecontrolled 50kg robot named after a species of rodent common to the Indian subcontinent will be soon seen in Dubai. Created by Genrobotics, a team of engineers from Kerala, it has already been deployed across seven other Indian states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana, CEO Vimal Govind, one of the firm’s founders, tells GN Focus. “We’ve also signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai Municipality and will soon start working in Dubai,” he says.
The agreement came about following Genrobotics’ participation last year in the fifth cohort of Dubai Future Accelerators, an intensive programme that pairs technology developers from around the world with government organisations in the UAE. A bit like a giant spider with a bucket, the pneumatic robot can be lowered into a manhole to unblock drains and collect and deposit any debris above ground.
With a body of stainless steel and carbon fibre, it is operated remotely over WiFi or Bluetooth from a handheld smartphone. A live video feed allows the internal inspection of sewers. “Bandicoot’s distinct mechanical design and artificial intelligence system operates just like a human being, but is a far more efficient, elegant and economic solution,” Govind says. A team of five sanitation workers can clean two to three manholes per day, he adds.
By contrast, a single operator using one Bandicoot can service triple the number of units in the same time. “In every aspect, robots are better than humans – and they won’t die inside manholes!” Rashid K., Genrobotics’ COO says, “We are planning to deploy this robot across the world, specifically in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are facing issues in the sanitation sector.” Over the long term, he says, the company hopes to turn Bandicoot into an intelligent robot that can detect blockages automatically via GPS, and then travels to the location and swings into action.