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IIT Madras: IIT-Madras develops robot to clean septic tanks, ready for field deployment

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.

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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.

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