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Kochi to use drain cleaning robots

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Can clean upto 20 manholes per day

The Kochi Corporation is all set to move towards a better and safer cleaning solution. The civic body will introduce Bandicoot, an 80-kg robot, to carry out scavenging works especially in drains and manholes. Bandicoot was developed by a nine-member tech team at Genrobotics — a start-up from Thiruvananthapuram, which is part of the Kerala Start-up Mission. The robot was launched in Thiruvananthapuram in 2018. This is the first time Kochi is going to seek the help of a robot to clean the city.

The robot, which is expected to be in use in a couple of months, can lift waste from 20 metres deep. It also has sensors and cameras to detect the gases and interiors of the drainage. To date, all these works were being carried out manually. The robot can clean the dirty water in an area in 20 minutes, which usually takes three to four hours if cleaned manually. It can also clean up to 10 manholes a day. Currently, Kochi Corporation has nearly 1,200 people doing sanitation works, including 799 permanent workers.

Officials at the corporation said the robot’s service is mainly targeted during flash floods when the water has to be drained immediately. “These robots aim to build a manual scavenging free India, thus changing manholes to roboholes, while making sanitation workers robotic operators. We focus on designing and developing robotic solutions to address the most relevant social issues. Currently, 14 states in India have bought Bandicoot from us,” said Bimal, one of the team members.

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