The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has introduced an advanced robot named ‘Bandicoot’ to clean and maintain city manholes safely without workers entering inside it. This initiative is in alignment with the vision of ONGC Foundation’s CSR division to bring  worker safety during maintenance of city manholes, using advanced technologies.

The Pooja ceremony of the launch was conducted by Hon’ble Deputy Mayors of Vijayawada, Smt. Bellam Durga and Smt. A.Sailaja Reddy. The key handover was done by Mr. Amit Narayan, Executive Director-Asset Manager, ONGC and the Hon’ble Municipal Commissioner Shri. Swapnil Dinakar Pundkar switched on the Bandicoot Robot on 26th May 2022 at Vijayawada Municipal Corporation office.

Cleaning of manholes effectively requires humans to enter inside it, but the manholes are death pits for the workers due to harmful gases. To solve this challenge Vijayawada Municipal Corporation has now deployed a robot to clean sewer manholes.

Vijaywada is the fourth city that has introduced Bandicoot Robotic Scavenging in Andhra Pradesh, after Tadipatri, Nellore and Visakhapatnam.  Through training and rehabilitation programs the sanitation workers now have a safer and dignified job as Robot Operators.

Bandicoot Robot is the world's first manhole cleaning robot developed as ‘MakeInIndia’ and ‘Swachh Bharat’ initiative by National Award winning startup Genrobotics.Bandicoot robot comes with a human comparable robotic arm and various sensors that help the robot to perform the cleaning action more efficiently. These robots are also featured with special 4 IP68 waterproof cameras to clean the manholes in a precise and efficient manner, even under low light conditions.

Bandicoot Robotic Technology is an AMRUT Tech Challenge Award winner as Promising Innovative Solution for eliminating manual scavenging by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

How does a Bandicoot Robot work?

Bandicoot Robots can do every action a human can perform inside the manhole, and can clean manholes more efficiently and effectively than a human by using the most advanced technologies like robotics and AI. It is also equipped with poisonous gas sensors, which help the operators to know the presence of poisonous gases inside the manholes, as this is one of the most common reasons for the manhole accidents.

Bandicoot can converge its diameter by using its legs to enter into the unseen depths of the manholes and after entering the manholes it will use its legs to move and gain more stability inside the manhole while pulling out the solid waste materials. Its specially designed robotic arm performs multiple operations such as shovelling, grabbing and pulling the wastes even from the corners of the manhole, which helps the liquid waste to flow through the sewer system naturally, This procedure is more efficient in cleaning manholes than any other conventional cleaning methodologies.

The robot has specially designed four-night vision, water and sewerage proof cameras so the depth and darkness of manholes won't be a threat anymore. After collecting all the wastes using its robotic arm from every corner, its intelligent bucket system will collect the wastes and pull it out from the manhole. These robots can be electrically powered through direct electricity, generators or batteries.

The robot has simple control functions, which, make it easier for the sanitation workers to handle it, and it also comes with an inbuilt training assistance that helps these workers to learn the operation through symbolic graphical representations. The operator can use the Robot with a single touch of control and it is as simple as playing a mobile phone game. Bandicoot can also be used for inspection of manholes. Along with awareness program on the adverse effects of manual scavenging, medical checkups and PPE kit distribution will also be conducted during the project for psychologically preparing the sanitation workers to be the robot operators. This will create a socio-economic impact on sanitation workers and that can provide a better and dignified lifestyle to the manual scavenging community.

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