IIT Madras develops HomoSEP robots to end manual scavenging; set for field deployment in Tamil Nadu
Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ ‘HomoSEP,’ a robot developed by the institute’s researchers to eliminate manual scavenging, is all set for field deployment. About ten units are to be deployed across Tamil Nadu. Locations to deploy them in Gujarat and Maharashtra are also being considered, says a press release.
The robot was developed by a team led by Prabhu Rajagopal, Centre for Nondestructive Evaluation, IIT Madras, and Faculty, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras together with a start-up Solinas Integrity Private Limited. The team has been in constant touch with sanitation workers and supported by the NGO, Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) dedicated to elimination of manual scavenging in India.
At present, the first two HomoSEP units have been distributed to self-help groups led by Nagamma and Ruth Mary whose husbands died during sanitation work, through the support of the SKA.
In this model, IIT Madras is empowering enterprises established by such self-help groups, whose key stakeholders are women impacted by the consequences of manual scavenging. The distribution of the remaining units fabricated as per the project plans is ongoing, the release said.
Prabhu Rajagopal said, the septic tank is a poisonous environment, filled with semi-solid and semi-fluid human faecal material making up two-thirds of the tank. Hundreds of deaths are reported every year across India, due to manual scavenging in septic tanks despite bans and prohibitory orders.
The HomoSEP project is unique, as it has brought together the key stakeholders, including universities (our team), NGOs, Industry CSR and start-ups to develop solution for a social problem. We hope our effort serves as an inspiration for others to join and solve this problem, he said.
The HomoSEP Robot can homogenise the hard sludge in septic tanks through custom-developed rotary blade mechanism and pump the tank slurry using an integrated suction mechanism. Sanitation Workers can operate the HomoSEP, after getting training and along with necessary safety measures.