IIT Madras: The Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has developed a robot that aims to eliminate the practice of manual scavenging in India. The institute plans to deploy 10 units of HomoSEP – the new robot – across Tamil Nadu. Researchers are already in touch with sanitation workers to identify specific locations for deployment.
The robot was developed over several years by a team led by Professor Prabhu Rajagopal from the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation and Faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering with IIT Madras-incubated startup Solinas Integrity. The team worked closely with sanitation workers and was supported by the Safai Karamchari Andolan, an NGO dedicated to eliminating the practice of manual scavenging.
Currently, two HomoSEP units have been sent to self-help groups led by Nagamma and Ruth Marie, whose husbands died during the sanitation work, with the support of NGOs.
The IIT-Madras model is empowering enterprises set up by self-help groups, whose major stakeholders are women affected by the consequences of manual scavenging.
Talking about his intention behind the project, Prof Rajagopal said: “Septic tank is a toxic environment, filled with semi-solid and semi-fluid human excreta material which constitutes about two-third of the tank Despite restrictions and prohibitions, manual scavenging in septic tanks causes hundreds of deaths every year across India.