“Design Engineers should not focus too much on Optimisation”

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Vijaita Khandelwal

SEPTEMBER 2012: Gridbots is a technology and innovation company, based out of Ahmedabad and working in the field of robotics – artificial intelligence and machine vision. Founded in 2007, Gridbots envisions a design house scenario where innovating out-of-the-box designs becomes the norm rather than the exception. Apart from working in the high-end technology, the company is also trying to propagate robotics amongst young minds and making them understand this high-end technology in a simple manner. To cater to this purpose – Gridbots has a dedicated division called Edubotix Innovation which serves to the needs of research and educational robotics.

Vijaita Khandelwal, CEO, Gridbots Technologies, spoke to Ashwin Gopinath of EFY about her vision for the design house scenario in India.


Q. Could you tell our readers a bit about Gridbots?
A. Gridbots is a technology innovation company. It basically means that we work with theZ4B_vijaita-gridbots latest technology and believe in innovation being the only way forward. Started in 2007 by Pulkit Gaur (also director of Gridbots), the focus of the company was very clear from the onset–develop in the field of defense robotics and nuclear robotics. We have the singular office at Ahmedabad and we handle all the work from this office (as of now). Gridbots started off by converting the existing technology into real world products. That course of action took some time to mature after which clients were approached. We demonstrated the working technology to them and then started converting them into products customised for our customer’s needs.

Q. So would it be fair to say that your Research Wing is your main centre of attention?
A. That goes without saying. You could say that our capability of indigenous research is the defining feature/USP at Gridbots. The technology that we have developed on our products and the ones we are expecting to roll out soon are all based on research from the ground up. From day one, focus has been not only to innovate but innovate smartly. We want to create technology that can be used on products. This need to innovate is without doubt one of the key differentiators, which sets us apart from the competition in the market. Consequently, we invest heavily in our R&D team to stay ahead of the competition.

Q. Considering your portfolio and the single office, is your facility well-equipped enough to handle all operations in-house?
A. Yes, it almost is. The initial process is not limited to the mechanical design, the machine design, the electronics, touchscreen and other user interfaces, the chip design and the programming is all done on our premises. Any aspect of technology that is used in our sphere is done by us. But, large scale production and fabrication is something that (as of now) we outsource to local vendors.

Q. Since yours is a very dynamic field with lots of possibilities, I was wondering if you have any evolutionary offerings in the pipeline that you would like to share with us?
A. We have a separate sector within Gridbots where we have developed a Robot which can perform underground excavation upon being controlled by a remote controlled operator. They can also move on every kind of terrain. We are also India’s first commercial Underwater-Robot manufacturing company. Recently, we also completed fabrication for the prototype of an unmanned aerial vector robots. So basically, Gridbots has robots which can negotiate tough terrain, underwater operations and can fly.

Q. Are your products for “Indian Eyes Only”?
A. Currently, we are focusing solely on the Indian Market. Most of our products are made/customised for the government sector. The Indian Government is the largest client we have. Additionally, we also supply products for various organisations both in the public and private sctor.

Q. Could you name some of the products you have for your verticals?
A. Well, we have an unmanned robot named ‘Ground Zero’. It can take payloads up to 200kgs, operate in range of -20 degree C to +80 degree C. In addition, it is also fireproof. We can also mount guns on it. This allows it to be sent into navigate dangerous territories which can either be difficult to navigate or could be inhospitable. For navigation purposes, there’s a camera mounted on it. So the video feed is sent to a remote operator who can control the robot effectively. It has 2 types of cameras on it. A robotic manipulator mounted on it helps motor functions (like an arm) to de-activate mines and remove them. And since the robot is very light, it can even be worn as a backpack and carried to the site of deployment.

Q. How does ‘Ground Zero’ deactivate mines?
A. Well, as of now, the operator using the robot uses remote control to operate the servo-robotic arm to remove the casing and subsequently go on about deactivating the mine. The great thing in this case is that even if there’s a blast, the robot won’t be affected as it’s got a sturdy rugged design.

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