HomoSEP: IIT Madras Robot to clean septic tanks

Indian Institute of Technology Madras has developed a robot called to clean septic tanks and eliminate manual scavenging in India. It is all set to be deployed in field.

Highlights

  • A total of ten robots are planned to be deployed across Tamil Nadu.
  • Researchers are in touch with sanitation workers for identifying locations.
  • Some locations in Maharashtra and Gujarat are also being considered.

Who has developed the robot?

HomoSEP robot has been developed by a team led by Prof. Prabhu Rajagopal from IIT Madras, in association with IIT Madras-incubated start-up Solinas Integrity Private Limited. It is also supported by Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) NGO, which is dedicated towards eliminating manual scavenging in India.

Distribution of HomoSEP

Currently, two HomoSEP units have been distributed to self-help groups led by Ms Ruth Mary and Ms. Nagamma whose husbands died during sanitation work. In the unique model, IIT Madras is empowering enterprises led by self-help groups, whose key stakeholders will be women impacted by consequences of manual scavenging.

How are septic tank dangerous?

Septic tank is a poisonous environment. It is filled with semi-solid and semi-fluid human faecal material. Materials makes up around two-thirds of the tank. Due to manual scavenging, hundreds of deaths are reported every year across the country, even though manual scavenging have been banned.

Background

HomoSEP robot was first developed by Divanshu Kumar, as a final year Masters’ project. It was showcased at the IIT Madras Carbon Zerp Challenge 2019, after it received seed support from Socially Relevant Projects Initiative of IIT Madras. This project was supported first by several CSR donors, starting with WIN Foundation supported for initial prototype development in 2019. GAIL (India) supported for product development in 2019-20 while CapGemini extended support for miniaturization and portability of the robot.

Working Mechanism

HomoSEP Robot homogenizes the hard sludge in septic tanks by using custom-developed rotary blade mechanism and then pumps the tank slurry by an integrated suction mechanism. Sanitation workers can operate the robot on their own with relevant training and appropriate guidance.

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