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Covid-19: IIM-Kozhikode’s incubatee start-up designs robot arm for swab sample collection

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on May 27, 2020 Published on May 26, 2020

In the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic an Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM-K) based incubatee start-up has come up with an indigenous robotic intervention. The start-up ispAgro has developed a functional prototype of a robotic swab sample collection arm which can be remotely controlled for a safe and speedy collection process.

The start-up specialises in drone and robotics technology and is one of the many start-ups mentored by IIM-K’s business incubator and entrepreneurship development centre, LIVE.

ispAgro has been seed-funded by the collaborative initiative between IIMK LIVE and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Limited and has developed the robot to replace the manual swab collection process to reduce the threat to frontline health workers involved in test sample collection. The robot armed with 180° rotation gripper is extendible up to 1m in length.

Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM Kozhikode, said that the unprecedented crisis can only be countered by rapid innovations. He said, “The resolve shown by the start-up to come up with this robotic intervention in a short time speaks volumes about how indigenous talents nurtured in a cultivable, creative environment can lead the way in an hour of crisis.”

Avinash Rao, founder – ispAgro Robotics, said that the company is planning to enhance the prototype by including AI-based operator-less control so that the robot can be deployed at the level of Primary Health Centres. Camera and infra-red integration for better and faster sampling, microphone and speaker integration for two-way communication are also on the cards in addition to an automatic sanitation unit for its arm grippers to ensure complete safety of the person whose sample is being collected.

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Published on May 26, 2020
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