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IIT-M plans using robots to check sewers

With opposition coming in from several quarters on the use of workers engaging in manual scavenging of sewers, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras is exploring possibilities of a robot developed a year ago, for use in inspecting the city sewers.

IIT-M plans using robots to check sewers
Representative Image


IIT-Madras director Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi said that as the government had banned humans from being used in cleaning sewer lines, the institute was currently exploring the possibility of using a robot it developed a year ago for inspecting city sewer lines. He said there were several challenges in taking the vehicle underground through the sewer lines. 

“We need to see whether the cable connected to the vehicle can run underground. Also, what can be done to illuminate the pitch dark sewers. We need to look at these issues before using the vehicle inside a sewer. We would like to identify the location of the block, and then decide whether it is possible to remove it,” he said. 

Asked about using the vehicle in storm-water drains in cities, the director said it would be challenge to use the vehicle in such drains as drinking water pipe and electricity cables criss-cross the road making it difficult for the vehicle to move inside a drain, however the institute would study how to overcome such obstacles. 

“We have students and faculty with expertise in robotics as they have worked on it for several years,” he added. Speaking about the recent rain related floods in Chennai, Ramamurthi said hydrological engineering experts in the institute were using computers, satellite data and images to simulate conditions to see what would happen when rain inundates an area. 

“We need to see whether we can do anything for Chennai in association with PWD and the city Corporation. As government officials are busy with relief and rehabilitation, we will discuss these matters with them shortly. We have been working with these agencies even before rains too,” he added.

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