After the Union government ordered that no further funding could be given to projects under the Smart City Mission, the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL) has spent money on an ambitious project of using robots to safely clean and maintain city manholes without workers having to grab them.
Sanjay Kolte, CEO of PSCDCL, however, said that they can implement new projects if they are fully public-private partnership (PPP) or through a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.
Pune Smart City’s latest funded project is the introduction of three advanced robots called Bandicoot to clean and maintain manholes in the city. “These robots have been handed over to the civic solid waste management service and would be used in the Aundh Baner Balewadi area which is selected under the smart city regional development initiative,” Kolte said. “The three robots would be used for the next five years and the agreement with the private company would be concluded to provide operation and maintenance service for the robots,” he added.
The robots are already in use in Indore of Madhya Pradesh, which has consistently ranked first in the Union Government’s Swachh survey.
Manual cleaning requires humans to enter manholes and physically clean them and this practice has claimed the lives of many workers. “There have been incidents in the past when sanitation workers working in manholes have died due to toxic gases from manholes. Using robots to clean manholes would clog the PMC and obstruct cleaning sewer lines without endangering human life,” said an officer from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The PMC will intensify the use of robots to clean all sewers in the city based on the performance of the three robots procured under the smart city project, he said, adding that this initiative will provide job opportunities. safer and dignified for sanitation workers. robot operators with training and rehabilitation programs.
The Bandicoot robot is the world’s first manhole cleaning robot developed under the Make In India and Swachh Bharat initiative of national award-winning startup – Genrobotics. The Bandicoot robot user interface is designed for manual cleaning, which is interactive and user-friendly. These robots are equipped with a human-like robotic arm and various sensors that help them perform the cleaning action more efficiently. These robots are also equipped with 4 special IP68 waterproof cameras to clean manholes more accurately and efficiently even in low light conditions, the company said.
Bandicoot robotic technology is the winner of the AMRUT Tech Challenge award as a promising innovative solution for sanitation by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. This technology has also been exported to other countries to improve safety in confined spaces such as sewer manholes and refinery pits.