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This Low-Cost Robot Designed by Mumbai Students Could Clean up the Pollution in India’s Rivers

With water pollution continuing to be a major environmental threat to the nation, a group of determined students have developed a unique robot that may hold the key to solving the imminent problems posed by pollution.

The students of Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology (VESIT) in Mumbai, have designed a robot named SEARCh that can clean the waste that gets accumulated on the surface of water bodies, including rivers.

Here’s how it works

For starters, it is a raft-like structure made out of PVC pipes and used rubber. It’s got a conveyor belt that collects the garbage and drops it into a carrier that is also present on the raft.

The logic is simple: the waste will stick to the bottom of the conveyor belt and then deposit to the carrier tray.

Image for representation. Photo source

The device is connected to a computer and comes outfitted with a camera. The camera helps with the navigation as the robot’s movement can be controlled remotely.

The students who developed this robot (Kiran Parte, Ajit Krishnamoorthy, Piyush Devikar, Kedar Pednekar and Nishit Ahuja) conceived it in December 2016 and in the span of three months built a prototype. Given that they were able to cut costs while making the device, they have priced it between ₹12,000  and ₹15,000. This makes SEARCh at least 10 times cheaper than similar models available in the market currently, according to its creators.

Speaking to DNA, Kiran Parte, the team leader for the SEARCh project, said, “Tonnes of plastic waste is thrown into water bodies every day, which floats on the surface of the water; different kinds of waste such as food wrappers, plastic bags and flowers. This needs to be taken out with the help of river-cleaning machines, which are extremely costly and require a lot of space. The idea was to develop a machine, which could remove garbage on the surface level at a very low cost.”


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The biggest river in India, the Ganga, also continues to be one of the most polluted water bodies. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved 20 projects worth ₹1,900 crore in order to implement Namami Gange, a government project to clean the river.

The college can be contacted here for further details 

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