Passion That Solidifies a Dream; The Story of Genrobotics
Engineering college, the movie Avatar and an Iron Man suit- This seemingly random trinity, has birthed Genrobotics, the pride of Kerala in the hardware sector.
“Technology for a noble cause” this is how Genrobotics is known, as this student startup could deploy their Bandicoot manhole cleaning robots in over 14 states of India.
The Avatar Effect
The story of Genrobotics Innovations begins in the halls MES College of Engineering, Kuttipuram. When Avatar, the James Cameron film descended into theatres, this group of friends were captivated by the world of robots.
It was in 2015, when Vimal Govind MK, Rashid K, Arun George, and Nikhil NP watched Avatar, and it inspired their passion. Aided by the carpe diem mentality that marks the golden days of campus life, the group took this inspiration to create their first robotic giant, Exoskeleton Generation One Robot.
As they neared the end of academic year, they went on to bury themselves in research and development to build the first Ironman suit in 2016. The suit was a wearable Exoskeleton displayed at various festivals and even got chance to present at the American Society of Research conference in Singapore. This time of laurels was validation that there was something special lingering within the group.
A Passion They Couldn’t Ignore
After college marked them ready for the real world, the unofficial team of Genrobotics kept in touch. Everyone was placed in different companies, but despite this, they felt there was something missing. Eventually, they realized they should re-unite to work on their shared passion for innovating technologies and robotic solutions.
The group always had their sights set on the quality of people’s life, and in mid-2017, they began research and development on Medical Robotic-Exoskeleton technologies, for assisting physically challenged people to walk again, bringing their legs back to life. To fulfil their dream of innovating robotic solutions using exoskeleton technologies, the group registered Genrobotics as a student start-up in 2017.
Being a Hardware startup, they faced many challenges like insufficiency in space and manufacturing difficulties. They ran into that old hurdle all startups face: the lack of funding. Funds that they needed for research, prototyping, testing and manufacturing was not much more than expected. They realized they would have to set up their own infrastructure for prototyping, testing and manufacturing. With the training they received for entrepreneurship with the E-Cell in college and the support of the Kerala Startup mission, they managed to fly past their hurdles.
The Turning Point
Every great venture finds its foundation in a solid vision. Genrobotics has found this in designing automated solutions that address pressing social issues of the time, and assist physically challenged people.
In 2017, a newspaper published a photo of a man cleaning a maintenance hole swallowed by waste up to his neck. It prompted the Chief Minister of Kerala to ask authorities to find a much needed solution. The KVA put out the challenge, and Genrobotics realized instantly that this was exactly the kind of change they wanted to bring about. They began research in manual scavenging and found that the reality was worse than they had imagined. This triggered them to explore how replacing men with robots was the only way to solve the problem.
They spent the second half of 2017, plunged into research. The prototype they built was pitched to the KWA. In January 2018, it was selected and approved, and the Bandicoot 1.0 Robot came to life, inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Kerala. It was after this that they began receiving calls from administrative officers of neighbouring states to implement Bandicoot in their local bodies. This is when they realized their invention could and did go on to transform the lives of thousands of sanitation workers across the country.
Genrobotics is on its way, settling into the fully fledged form it has adopted now. The kids from MES Engineering College still walk with dreams of innovative leaps. It is a dream determined to come true, with a drive that refuses to quit.
Genrobotics got various support from Kerala Startup Mission like Grant, seedfund, marketing support etc.
Started in: 2017
Founders: Vimal Govind MK, Rashid K, Arun George, and Nikhil NP
- Research on medical exoskeleton robotic technology earned them the 2017 IDEC Innovation Grant from the Government of Kerala.
- Bandicoot & its #MissionRobohole, has reached along with 14 states of India,.
- G Gaiter — the robotic gait training platform for rehabilitation of paraplegic patients.
Business Philosophy/Success Mantra: Serving People Through Developing Technology
Future Plans: Robots that facilitate greater efficiency in managing work at highly dangerous places like constrained spaces with toxic contamination, Oil & Gas Refineries, Nuclear power plants.