Tripura dynamic duo develop robot for Covid-19 frontline workers

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AGARTALA | JUNE 14, 2020:

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life for almost half a year now, stories that reignite compassion and faith in humanity continue to crop up from time to time. One such inspiring story comes from Dharmanagar near Agartala where two B.Tech professionals Debasish Dhar and Abhishek Dhar successfully developed a robot which they named the 'CoCoBot (Corona Combat Bot) to help reduce the possibility of contamination for frontline workers in Covid-19 hospitals.

Both Debasish and Abhishek, who also happen to be cousins, completed their B.Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications from the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) in Bhuwaneshwar and were working at Wipro and HR Johnson.

The duo also founded a Dharmanagar-based start-up centering primarily on IT products called iLogitron Technologies. Earlier this year, both Debasish and Abhishek had come back to Tripura and were stuck at Dharmanagar due to the nationwide lockdown. However, the duo decided to utilize their free time by developing something for frontline workers.

While speaking to The Northeast Today (TNT) Debasish spoke about the inspiration, intention and vision which they had while developing the robot.

"By lockdown 2.0 we decided to build a robot which could assist health care workers in their fight against Covid-19. We tried procuring various components but most of them were not available and courier services had been suspended. But by the time lockdown 3.0 was in effect, we found out that a few of the components were available in our workshop at Bhubaneshwar. So we collected all the components with the help of one of our friends who were able to dispatch the items to us. However, the courier agency took almost 20 to 25 days to deliver the items to us. After receiving all the necessary items, I started working on the robot at my house. I later took the project to Abhishek's house and we managed to build the complete robot in three days and three nights," Debasish said.

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The robot is 2 feet tall and weighs around 15 kilograms. It has a carrying capacity of 5 kilograms at present and runs on a battery which has a range of around two to three hours. "The prime motive of the robot is to ensure that doctors or healthcare workers need not have to enter the Covid-19 ward every time to supply food or medicine to patients. The robot will carry all the medicine, food or any other important item to the patients inside the Covid-19 ward," he said.

"The doctors can easily sit in a separate room and will be able to control the robot via an android application. The robot has a camera, microphone, speaker and an 18 inch LCD screen. Doctors will also be able to see what the patients are doing and will be able to interact with them through an in-built audio-video platform. Moreover, there is a secondary screen on the robot which will play motivational videos for patients inside the Covid-19 ward," he added.

The developers of the CoCoBot Abhishek Dhar, left, and Debasish Dhar. (TNT Photo)

Taking about the prospect of the robot Abhishek said that they are planning to add a sanitizer spray option to the robot's already impressive arsenal along with a state-of-the-art thermal scanner.

It may be mentioned that Debasish and Abhishek are also in talks with the state government for the necessary funding needed to manufacture the robot. "We first approached our local MLA who is also the Deputy Speaker of the Tripura Assembly, Biswabandhu Sen, who immediately passed on the information to Chief Minister (CM) Biplab Kumar Deb after seeing our robot. The very next day we received a call from the CM's office asking us to go to Agartala. However, we were unable to go. But we recently managed to get an appointment with the IT department and had a video call with the department's director and other administrators. We demonstrated the capabilities of the robot and they have assured us that they will decide on the best way to assist us with logistics and other necessities," Abhishek said.

The duo concluded by stating that their sole intention for developing the robot was and will always be for the safety of frontline workers and not for any monetary gain. "So, we have asked the state government to provide only logistical help or coverage for manufacturing cost. We don't want any profit from it," Abhishek said.

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