Despite progress in terms of awareness as well as legislation, manual scavenging— the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers—still persists in our country. Using modern technology, an innovative startup is trying to make a difference here. An automated manhole cleaning robot called Bandicoot 2.0, developed by Genrobotics, is doing its bit to eradicate this unhealthy practice.
The ministry of housing and urban affairs and Smart City Mission India have recognised the potential of Bandicoot 2.0. This Trivandrum-based robotics company has deployed its Bandicoot robots across 11 states in the country. Soon after its successful implementation at Coimbatore smart city, the Central ministry has suggested Bandicoot 2.0 as a good example for enabling zero human-intervention in the sewerage cleaning process.
Genrobotics has raised Rs 2.5 crore in pre-Series A funding round from existing investors led by Unicorn India Ventures. Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra has also invested in Genrobotics in his personal capacity in this round along with SEA Fund. Without doubt, the young startup professionals at Genrobotic have received a shot in the arm when Mahindra praised their innovation and expressed interest to help them scale up.
After seeing their work and thoughtful intentions on reaching services to the unreached ones, he tweeted: “There’s a lot of nervousness about the role of robots and AI in the future. But frankly, if robots can liberate people from this most degrading job in the universe, then I promise I will discard any doubts and always pray at the shrine of technology and robotics.”
Vimal Govind, co-founder CEO, Genrobotics, says, “We are so happy that Bandicoot is bringing smiles to those innocent ones and we believe that our efforts will bring light into the stinking realities of manual scavenging in India.” The funds raised will be used for further scaling up production of Bandicoot and to develop new products and R&D to leverage the technology for the health care segment.
“When we met them two years back in Kerala, the prototype was ready and they needed funding for a commercial-ready product,” says Anil Joshi, managing partner, Unicorn India Ventures. “We decided to back them as we saw the potential robotics can bring to certain socially important issues especially if the team backing the business is as passionate as we have seen with Genrobotics. They have developed a globally relevant product and are already in talks with some international governing bodies for its deployment.”