Finding solutions to the problems daunting a community of people is a hallmark of true problem solvers who create history with their solutions. Here is a group of college mates who found their niche in robotics who went on to solve the problem of manual scavenging with their robotic solution- Bandicoot, the world’s first manhole cleaning robot. Their innovative solutions address issues concerning the health, sanitation, and well-being of patients affected by paraplegia. Recognized by organizations worldwide, for its excellent technological approach, this award-winning startup is on its way to revolutionize health facilities. In conversation with the founders of Genrobotics, where they share their story from a group of college mates to co-founders of this technological enterprise.
Brief us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures. What were you doing before this startup?
Genrobotics is a National award-winning start-up primarily focused on designing and developing robotic solutions to address the various sanitation and healthcare issues such as manual scavenging, rehabilitation of paraplegic patients, etc. Genrobotics is the inventor of Bandicoot Robot – The World’s first Manhole Cleaning Robot.
During our college days, we built Exoskeleton Generation One Robot. Later we built the first Iron Man suit in 2016. After college, we were placed in different companies but we gave that up for our passion of robotics, to form Genrobotics. We restarted our research and development on Medical Robotic- Exoskeleton technologies in mid-2017 for assisting physically challenged people to walk back again to life.
What are your unique selling points?
Bandicoot robots can clean maintenance holes more efficiently and effectively than humans using advanced technologies like robotics and AI. Bandicoot’s specially designed robotic arm can perform shoveling, grabbing, and pulling the wastes even from the corners of the maintenance hole. The robot is designed with four-night vision, water, and sewerage-proof cameras. After collecting all the scraps using its robotic arm from every corner, its intelligent bucket system will collect the wastes and pull them out from the Manhole. The bandicoot robot can be electrically powered through direct electricity, generators, or batteries. The operation of the robot can be monitored using a High definition screen.
Bandicoot can converge its diameter by using its legs to enter into the unseen depths of the maintenance holes. Bandicoot’s unique compatibility and its elucidated mobility feature provide easier accessibility, no matter where the maintenance holes are situated. Bandicoot performs cleaning actions even at constrained and crowded places without causing any traffic congestion. It is also equipped with poisonous gas sensors, which help the operators to know the presence of toxic gas inside the maintenance holes; poisonous toxic gases are the most common reason for maintenance hole accidents.
These features make our product stand out and hence give us a unique place in the market.
Brief us about a few products and services that you deliver.
The Bandicoot robot is the world’s first maintenance hole cleaning robot developed to eliminate human intervention for cleaning maintenance holes. Bandicoot robots can do every action a human can perform inside the maintenance hole. Bandicoot is a unique and innovative solution for Sanitation workers, replacing men from maintenance holes and giving that kind of human flexibility – a performance that no other technology can do.
After years of intensive research & development with a dedicated passion for Medical exoskeleton technology, we have developed G Gaiter – the robotic gait training platform for rehabilitation of paraplegic patients from our medical and mobility wing.
Our whole journey was paved from the research of medical exoskeleton technology, which has become the backbone for G Gaiter’s new invention and its rooting for bringing the light of hope towards an everyday life again. We are spearheading our whole on tackling and persevering novel ways to clear out extremities – difficulties and ensure through seamless Robotic solutions that touch the lives of many, G-Gaiter is also budded from that spirit.
How do you ensure the quality of your products?
We are following an efficient quality management system and procedures. We do research and development in quality aspects to maintain the quality and reliability of the products. We developed several checkpoints in the process of production. These checkpoints validate and ensure the quality of everything ranging from the raw material selection to the packaging and delivery of the product. Our team takes care of every quality checkpoint systematically and periodically.
The R & D wing constantly evaluates the level of quality and introspect keenly on giving their best. When manufacturing such a robotic product like Bandicoot, to perform efficiently at harsh terrains like the maintenance holes, oil pits and stormwater drains, etc. It demands maximum quality and minute detailing in the product & also our products – services following international standards such as ISO, CE, etc.
Where is your venture based? Why did you choose the place?
We have been working with our venture in Trivandrum technopark from the beginning because of the infrastructure and accessibility provided. Technopark has always been people’s prime choice because of its great atmosphere. We set up a production center and a hardware R&D center in the Kinfra apparel park. Now we are setting up a new and more extensive production center near Palakkad to increase the production capacity.
Our Medical and mobility wing is registered in the United Kingdom; the R&D and operation in the medical products will start soon. Medical products have an international market, so for R&D and procedures, the United Kingdom is the best place for Genrobotics to deliver quality products, straightforward processes, and services all around the globe.
What were the challenges you faced in setting up your venture? Has it gotten easier over the years?
After all, being a Hardware startup, we are faced with so many challenges like insufficiency in space and manufacturing difficulties compared. We ran into that old hurdle all startups face: the lack of funding. There is a high need for financing when it comes to manufacturing, prototyping, and testing. Though the infrastructure resources available favored IT sectors, the hardware infrastructure did not host well for robotics. So setting up our infra for manufacturing, prototyping, and testing was the only option. From the college days itself, we have been trained through the skills for entrepreneurship with the E-Cell, so those experiences helped us fix the venture challenges.
Could you tell us about a few milestones you have crossed over the years with your venture?
Genrobotics rooted journey with Bandicoot on the venture of making India free from Manual Scavenging through the #MissionRobohole; it has reached 14 states of the country for transforming and restoring the dignity in lives of safai karamcharis. So far, more than thousands of Safai karamcharis went through the rehabilitation process and were empowered with skills in robotic operation.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs quoted our Bandicoot robotic scavenger technology as an excellent example for smart cities and municipalities to improve the working condition of sanitation workers & eliminating manual scavenging; It also suggested the bandicoot as the perfect tool for the sanitation workers during the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Government itself came forward with action plans for ending manual scavenging. Using technology and bandicoot has become a part of the country’s most significant initiatives, such as Swach Bharat Abhiyan and Safaimitr Suraksha Challenge. The movement we have created through #missionrobohole has got word spread and started receiving love – recognitions from different entities, including Government and many others.
We Genrobotics won – Best National Startup Award 2020, MoHUA’s AMRUT Tech Challenge Award for ‘Promising Innovative solution for cleaning and maintenance of sewerage systems which eliminates the need for human entry, Hindu BL Young Change Maker Award from the Hon’ble Vice President of India and Anjani Mashelkar Inclusive Innovation Award for addressing the issue of manual scavenging and bringing transformations in society through the innovative robotic solution, etc. Moreover, the prestigious TiE Silicon Valley awarded the TiE 50 award. It recognized our deedful efforts to innovate life-saving technology in sanitation – healthcare industries and supporting Indian states during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Our whole journey started from our campus days. We four are fascinated with Robotics, and this like-mindedness paved the way to Genrobotics. We began our robotics experimentation and research from the campus and developed Exoskeleton Robot, which fueled our robotic dreams to further levels.
Have you raised funding? Could you brief us about it
Genrobotics raised a Pre Series A funding of Rs 3.25 crore( US$ 0.489 mn ) from Unicorn India venture LTD, SEA Fund, Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, and former vice president of Google, Mr. Rajan Anandan.
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