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IIEST Kolkata creates first smart grid project to generate power from renewable energy

The Hindu Business Line | Kolkata, May 17Press Trust of India |

The aim is to generate 32 kW of power from whichever resource available and synchronise the smart grid to take the power in the system for use

Sources of energy

“The power to be generated from solar energy depends on the availability of sunlight while wind energy will be produced during nor’wester and tropical storm. The power from biogas will be generated from vegetable waste collected from the campus kitchen and outside markets,” the professor said. “In the integrated project, by the Centre for Excellence for Green Energy Systems (CEGESS) of the institute, we are aiming to generate 32 kW of power from whichever resource available and synchronise the smart grid to take the power in the system for use. Thus we will not be depending on one resource,” Roy said. Roy added that the world will be faced with serious situation with the depletion of hydrocarbon source. “Since coal-hydrocarbon based energy technology leads to environmental degradation, the future lies in renewable energy based technology,” he said.  The eminent scientist said, this being the age of smart technology, the institute needed to look forward.  “The government planners and academicians should be involved in big way as technology is changing very very fast.“The next 50 years will witness unimaginable change in technology, which cannot be static,” he added. – Courtesy

RobotiX by Satyajeet Mahapatra, the farming tool of the future is here

One India.com | Prabhpreet Singh Sood  | May 9, 2017 |

Muniratham, a farmer in his mid-fifties, in Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, witnessed his crop yield fall by half following damage to his crops as he was unable to take serious notice of the details being sent to him on his phone. The previous cycle when he did notice them, his yield had been better than ever. The notifications were being sent to him by a new product, RobotiX, that he had set up at his farm, which led to the increase in the first cycle. It was this product that helped him to understand the reasons for the loss in the second, and take corrective steps to get the optimum results again.

He is one of the lucky ones when compared to so many other farmers throughout the country who end up in debt and take extreme steps such as suicide due to inability to repay loans following crop damages from reasons like poor rainfall, wrong choice of seeds, lack of knowledge of proper agriculture practices among others. And this is where a product like RobotiX aims to come in and change the way of not only how farming is done in the country but also improve lives of farmers by taking care of the problems that usually lead to crop damage. Satyajeet Mahapatra, one of the founders and the CEO of eXabit Systems, the company that invented RobotiX, believes that not only can such problems be easily solved, but scientific farming can also lead to India becoming the food bowl of the world in a decade’s time. “Through RobotiX the farmer is guided in a way that not only protects the crop from damage but is also able to increase the gross output of crop by using Precision Farming practices,” said Mahapatra. “I call it the MRI machine for crops.”
RobotiX and how it helps The solar powered product, two kg in weight and 40 cm tall, comes equipped with sensors that monitor crop health, but also soil temperature and humidity, and the microclimatic conditions such ambient Temperature and humidity. It also provides the farmers with real-time data through phone notifications and also the companies android app in five languages- Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and English- helping them make the right decision like the right time and level of irrigation, required, among others. But Mahapatra believed, this would not have been enough as farmers would have to take care of all the problems manually and this might not give the best results. This led to the company to introduce automation technology, which takes over the role of the farmer, by providing solutions such as irrigation, fertilisation and misting, and allowing them to remotely control these from any corner of the world, by reading the data on the ground. “The automation technology allows steps like water being provided through valves which are connected to the device in the farm in case that is what is required or by switching the fan on or off in case of greenhouse farming,” said Prashant Sahoo, founder and COO of eXabit Systems. Along with such on-farm technologies, the product also helps the farmers choose the right seeds, the right crops for particular kinds of climate, soil etc., and will also eventually be able to forecast which crop will be the best for the land and what the output should be if all the criteria are followed. The company also puts users directly in touch with experts who help them guide through such choices.
The team and its journey so far Putting all this together has not been easy for the team at eXabit, a company founded by four engineering college friends, Amulya Mishra, Avinash Agarwal, along with Mahapatra and Sahoo. While they had always planned to do something of their own as Sahoo explained, but after college, they all went their separate ways, as all them ended up working for various multinational companies. “But we never forgot our original plan,” recalled Sahoo. It was in 2013 that they started working on their plan, and it was in September 2014 that they finally started eXabit. Though they started providing post-harvest services that year, the work on the prototype of RobotiX was rolled out into the field in October 2015 and was ready for sale in July of last year. From asking friends and family for the initial investments and conducting field trials to get customers, to now when they have investors and more than 40 customers waiting in the pipeline waiting for the new batch of the 200 new RobotiX instruments to come off the assembly line, the four company and its founders have come a long way.
The last challenge But Mahapatra believes a far bigger challenge lies ahead for them now that the product design and performance has been perfected. “The real problem is in the resistance to change that the Indian farmers have. They are still stuck with the traditional way of farming and in the choices they make,” said Mahapatra. “The solution for their conventional problems are here with a product like RobotiX but for real improvement to come in agriculture in India the old mindset needs to be broken and such solutions to accepted and applied without hesitation,” he added. If this is true, it can quite possibly explain what has led to farmers, including Muniratham, to face losses. If he had seen the data and taken action or followed the advice he could have been able to avoid the loss he suffered, like so many others who do not have a tool like RobotiX at their disposal. – Courtesy

IEM College Kolkata creates device to make cab rides safer

The Asian Age | Apr 30, 2017 | 

Representational Image

Kolkata: Students and teachers of Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM) in Salt Lake have come up with a device, which they say might “put an end to unsafe cab ride particularly for the women who often have to travel alone”.  “We are concerned with the incidents of molestation and misbehaviour with women by cab drivers. The cases have gone up with the introduction of app-based cab services like Ola and Uber. The device divides the car cabin into two chambers. The rear seat passenger and the front seat of the driver are separated by a steel mesh. Also, the rear seat doors have been fitted with two additional safety latches, that will prevent the driver or any miscreant to open the door, unless the passenger does it on his/ her own,” Prof. Satyajit Chakrabarti, director of IEM said.

The institute has written to the central transport ministry, the state transport ministry as well as cab aggregators, urging them to make the device mandatory in cabs. “We have also demonstrated it before the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate,” prof Chakrabarti said. Written communication has also been sent to some leading car manufacturers for introducing this device. Students and faculty members have also come up with a low cost fully autonomous GPS based quadcopter for disaster management. Both the innovations were demonstrated at the IEM campus on Saturday. IEM is the first private engineering college in Bengal. “We have applied for patents in both these innovations. Last year we had applied for 23 patents,” he said. – Courtesy

Bengaluru engineering student Antony Jenitter develops an intelligent watering system for urban gardeners

Economic Times | Technology | |

Antony Jenitter has sold 27 indoor gardening devices which are priced Rs 299 and is working with prospective clients such as SAP Labs for the outdoor solution.

Many Bengalureans have been witness to those glory days when they could endlessly water their gardens and still have water left to wash their porches and cars.  Some still continue to spend huge volumes of water on their greenery at a time when water is a scarce commodity. Now, an engineering student has come up with an innovation that allows the garden city to hold onto its gardens but water it sustainably.  Antony Jenitter a sixth semester student of telecommunication engineering at CMR Institute of Technology, has built the system keeping farmers in mind but quickly adapted it to cater to urban needs, sensing an opportunity.  “Many people and places in the city are interested in or have greenery. However, they end up wasting a lot of water trying to maintain it,“ Jennitter said, giving the example of his college which has limited or no water supply on two days of the week and yet does not fail to generously water its plants with a hose on days there is water supply.
Several soil-moisture and temperature sensors are placed at predefined spots and are connected to a controller. A tablet, in which green patches of the campus are mapped, uses the sensor data to graphically display the water levels. Connected to this are sprinklers which automatically turn on and off based on moisture requirements.  The system is customised to water with precision. “For instance, if there is a circular patch of greenery, the sprinkler will be modified to water only in that radius. This way, not an extra drop of water is wasted,“ Jenitter said.  Another problem he found was that individuals who grow plants on their balconies or indoors often let them dry when they travel or forget to water. To address this, he has built a compact indoor garden watering device which is the size of an average smartphone. “When attached to a pot, the device will ensure that it is watered optimally ,“ he said.

After his idea was incubated at CMRIT, Jenitter decided to commercialise it. He registered it as the proprietor under the name Irrrigatronics in January this year. He has since sold 27 indoor gardening devices which are priced Rs 299 and is working with prospective clients such as SAP Labs for the outdoor solution, which is priced based on the area and other requirements.  Professor Kalaga Madhav, of the Department of Electronics and Communications Engineering at CMRIT, said Jenitter’s system has also helped the college optimise its water usage in the gardens.  “When you ask a gardener to use less water, it means nothing to him. However, a machine actually ensures you are neither over-watering nor underwatering,“ he said.  CMR Group of Institutions chairman and Rajya Sabha member KC Ramamurthy said that with the current unpredictable weather conditions, and failing monsoons, such innovations are crucial. “The government must take notice of such small-level frugal innovations and develop them to implement on a large-scale.“ –  Courtesy

CRCE Bombay engineering students invent robotic medicine vending machine : Medibot

News Nation Bureau  |  April 11, 2017  |  New Delhi | 

A robotic vending machine to distribute medicines, has been developed by a team of engineering students from Fr Conceicao Rodrigues College of Engineering (CRCE) in Bandra.

IIT Bombay engineering students invent robotic medicine vending machine

IIT Bombay engineering students invent robotic medicine vending machine

A robotic vending machine to distribute medicines, has been developed by a team of engineering students from Fr Conceicao Rodrigues College of Engineering (CRCE) in Bandra. The device is called Medibot. It is made full with medicines and then it moves from one hospital bed to the next. Radio-frequency identification tags are given to patients. The tags are similar to tokens of Mumbai Metro, that includes the data of the quantity of medicines that have been prescribed to patients. Patients have to just scan the tag on RFID reader on the robot, and it dispenses the medicines.

At an annual national level embedded systems and robotics competition held by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) on Saturday, Medibot was declared as the ‘the most innovative solution.’  The competition, known as ‘eYantra Ideas Competition’ is part of an IIT-B initiative that trains engineering students in embedded systems- the electronics at the heart of modern machines – in order to provide practical solutions for real world problems. – Courtesy

How to avoid cows on road: GTU Engineers create alert system for car drivers

Hindustan Times | Apr 08, 2017 | IANS, Ahmedabad  |

Stray cows are often found in the middle of the roads, causing problems to commuters.(HT File)

Stray cows are often found in the middle of the roads, causing problems to commuters.(HT File)

Indian engineers have developed a real-time automatic obstacle detection and alert system to help cars avoid colliding with cows on the road, a common sight in this part of the world. The system uses a dashboard camera and an algorithm that can determine whether an object near the vehicle is an on-road cow and whether or not its movements represent a risk to the vehicle. A timely audio or visual indicator can then be triggered to nudge the driver to apply the brakes whether or not they have seen the animal.

“The proposed system has achieved an overall efficiency of 80 per cent in terms of cow detection,” the researchers said in a study published in the Indonesian Journal of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. According to researchers Sachin Sharma and Dharmesh Shah of the Department of Electronics and Communication at Gujarat Technological University in Ahmedabad, the proposed system is a low-cost, highly reliable system which can easily be implemented in automobiles for detection of cow or any other animal after proper training and testing on the highway.  The algorithm requires optimisation and the issue of night-time driving is yet to be addressed, the team said in an article in International Journal of Vehicle Autonomous Systems. –  Courtesy

NIE Engineering college students develop ‘Smart cradles’ to the rescue of deserted newborns

The Hindu | Laiqh A. Khan | Mysuru March 08, 2017 | Karnataka |   ‘Smart cradles’ to the rescue of deserted newborns  |

Representational Image

Representational Image

A smart cradle designed by the National Institute of Engineering (NIE), an engineering college in Mysuru, has caught the attention of the Women and Child Welfare Department, which is planning to place them at key locations so that unwed mothers can safely handover the newborns to the authorities instead of either selling or abandoning them. The smart cradle has been equipped with an alarm system that goes off in five minutes after the baby has been placed, providing sufficient time for the mothers, who want their anonymity to be protected, to leave the place. While clarifying that the department’s move to place these cradles was not to encourage people to abandon children, Mysuru District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) R. Nagaraj told The Hindu that the authorities hope to deter unwed mothers from either selling the newborns or abandoning them near drains or streets, where they are often at the mercy of street dogs.  While a prototype of the smart cradle has already been kept outside Bapuji Children’s Home, an institution which provides shelter to abandoned children in Mysuru, orders have been placed for two more such cradles.

Claiming that the number of unwed mothers delivering babies had increased in recent times, particularly from rural areas, Mr. Nagaraj said a total of seven newborns were voluntarily surrendered to the authorities since January 2016 while at least four more were found abandoned in different places. Two of the voluntarily surrendered children had been kept in the cradle outside Bapuji Children’s Home, he said. “Officials of the department from different districts of the State too have evinced interest in the smart cradles,” Mr Nagaraj said, adding that the two to be delivered shortly will be placed outside the Government Home for Girls on Lalith Mahal Palace Road and Government Home for Destitute Women in Vijayanagar II Stage in the city.Emphasising on the need to ensure the safety of the child, Mr. Nagaraj said the authorities also accept newborns handed over to them personally. “We will not ask the mother or others any questions,” he assured.  The surrendered children will be taken care at specialised adoption agencies registered by the State government till they are handedover to childless couples, who are registered with the Central Adoption Resource Authority. “About 1,800 couples in Karnataka have registered themselves and are awaiting children for adoption. There are about 270 children available for adoption in the State now,” he added. Meanwhile, K.R. Prakash, Head, Centre for Automation Technology, NIE, said the smart cradle was designed and developed by Ajit, a student of Industrial Automation and Robotics, who passed out from the institute last year. “NIE has now outsourced the technology to an alumnus of the college, who runs a fabrication unit, to make the smart cradles,” he added. –  Courtesy

An idea as solid as a brick to manage plastic

The Times of India | Sudha Nambudiri | TNN | Feb 19, 2017 |

KOCHI: A group of engineering graduates who recently graduated from the Model engineering college, Thrikkakara, has come out with an innovative solution for managing plastic waste – plastic bricks.  Taking inspiration from Ahmad Khan’s plastic road, and stories of plastic bricks made in Ivory Coast and Uganda, the team came up with a unique product of their own, one that can be manufactured with raw materials available locally. “When we made the first prototype, we took it to the civil engineering department of Cochin university for testing quality and strength. These bricks have passed all the recommended tests viz. compressive strength test, water absorption test, flexural test,” said Kevin Jacob, a member of the team. Cusat’s civil engineering department has certified the product.

“It is a mixture of plastic waste collected from Karukutty grama panchayat and surrounding areas and some local ingredients,” said Manyu J Varma. The methods followed and ingredients used in preparing the brick made it stronger, less water absorbent, and more durable than ordinary bricks.  Most of them had got into the IT industry with good pay-packets but thirst for innovation drove them to quit the jobs. They invested in the venture whatever money they saved. “We got these bricks ready by mid-January and finished the testing by February. Now we are building a small plant in the backyard of my home in Karukutty to make more bricks,” Kevin said. Out of 60 million tonnes of trash generated in India yearly, 6,000 tonnes are generated every day in Kerala alone. Kochi known as the waste capital of the state, being the top contributor, produces around 45,000 metric tonnes of waste annually.

“We can make 2,500 bricks from five tonnes of plastic waste generated every day in Kochi,” he said. These paving bricks can be used for making footpaths, paving roads, and maybe in the future, with some improvement, even to build houses, the youngsters said. Innovation is not new to this group who, during their college days have won accolades for manufacturing a smart fan-regulator, ‘i-fan’, hybrid electric trains and a project on early detection of Parkinson’s Disease etc.

 The others in the team are Saffin Nazeer, Abhijth D, Edwin Basil James, Geethanjali T Menon Bhagyalakshmi, Arjun Sasikumar, Julian Sara Joseph, Sreelakshmi P V, Mevin Jacob and Fevin Basil James. There is also one medical student. Kevin has been selected to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for more rigorous training in innovation and entrepreneurship. He was selected from an outstanding pool of applicants that included students, professionals, entrepreneurs and inventors from all over the world. The travel and visa expenses for this boot camp will be sponsored by KSIDC that helps young startups develop with seed funding. “We dream about a machine that eats plastic all day and gives out all sorts of construction bricks” said Julian on the project. – Courtesy
The interlocking paver bricks made from plastic waste.

The interlocking paver bricks made from plastic waste.

Building roads using plastic, brick by brick –  The Hindu, February 20, 2017, M P Praveen. – Click here to Read More….

College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) develops instant splint for injured limbs

The Times of India | Swati Shinde Gole | TNN |  Feb 10, 2017 |

Representational Image

Representational Image

PUNE: The College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP), has developed a patented hybrid orthopaedic splint that can be used as an instant plaster on fractured limb to ensure the broken bone stays in normal position and avoid propagation of crack.  Extremely light in weight, the splint can be carried in a first aid kit for emergencies. One just has to dip it in water, squeeze and apply it on injured hand. The splint is made with a combination of plaster of Paris and paper pulp. It remains hard on hand for more than 24 hours after application. The splint should be used only as a preventive action. It can prove handy in schools as well as rural areas because reaching hospitals in case of an injury takes some time from there.  After securing patent for the splint, the CoEP team is conducting field trials. Mayur Sanas, the researcher working on the project, said the samples of the splints are being distributed to primary health centres and hospitals in the city for trials.

“We are trying to set up a manufacturing unit at CoEP for mass production,” said Sanas.  The CoEP has a satellite centre of Biomedical Engineering and Technology incubation Centre (BETiC) set up by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. It is supported by the state and Union governments. Compared to the fiberglass splints used at present, the hybrid design is lighter. Yet, it provides the optimal bending stiffness. At present, the prototype version costs close to Rs 120 per splint. The researchers at CoEP believe the cost would come down with mass production.  Arati Mulay, co-investigator of the project, said, “The best part of this preventive tool is it is user-friendly and involves just three simple steps for usage. When a child falls and injures his/her hand and develops fracture in a school, the institution calls the child’s parents and wait for further action till they arrive. If school authorities wrap this splint instantly around the injured hand or leg in such cases, the limb would be immobilised in less time.”

The traditional method of applying plaster splint involves wrapping cotton around wet plaster splint and allowing it to solidify in open air. Bandages are applied over the splint to fix it at the proper position. Often, the two layers of cotton get mixed, making it difficult to remove the splint after the treatment is over. Plaster splint with cotton padding are heavy, less durable and have poor strength to weight ratio. Fibreglass splint overcomes these drawbacks, but is expensive.   Ashish Ranade, an orthopaedic surgeon of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said, “This (hybrid splint) can be treated as an excellent first aid tool because it can be used instantly and for temporary stabilisation at the scene of accident on the fractured hand or leg.” Ranade said when there is a fracture, the pain is excruciating. “At present, no instant aid to fractured bones is available. In such a scenario, this splint will come in handy, but only as a preventive action.” At Columbia Asia, the orthopaedic department has received great feedback on the usage of the innovative splint. Orthopaedic surgeon Silukumar Bhaskaran said, “In normal procedure, plastering the fractured area is cumbersome. But this splint fits to the shape quicker. In the normal plastering process, the calcium keeps oozing out and there is a loss of material used. But in this case, it is not so. It is a good innovation and we have started using it.” –  Courtesy

Physically challenged man, Biju Varghese develops innovative car driving system

Economic Times, Auto | 

Kerala, KOCHI: The tale of wheelchair-bound Biju Varghese who built a car engineering system to help those like him drive is about a man’s grit and determination to face life’s challenges head on. The 44-year-old award winning entrepreneur’s ‘Spince Engineering’ stall is one of the nearly 200 exhibitors at the ‘Vyapar 2017’ meet, a trade event being organised by the Kerala government to showcase its robust Small and Medium Enterprises sector. The system developed by Biju allows people in wheelchairs to drive using a hand-operated brake, clutch and accelerator lever, which can be fitted on to the gear of any car.

The system developed in 2003 and approved by Automotive Research Association of India can be fitted in 15 minutes with no alterations to the car and can be removed just as easily, the ‘Vyapar 2017’ organisers said here. While the unit can cost between Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 depending on a person’s disability, Biju fits it free of cost to those who cannot afford it. The differently-abled man works out of a workshop near his house in Mukkoottuthara in Kottayam district. He has employed two workers. “I feel proud that I have given a new lease of life to over 2,000 disabled people and, in turn, to their families,” said Biju who suffered a spinal injury in a road accident when he was 25.

The gritty innovator decided that he was not going to let the injury leave him bedridden, and through a trial and error method, the self-taught mechanic developed the unit. “My car can go upto 170 km per hour when I drive on the highway to Pune,” he pointed out proudly. However, tragedy struck Biju’s life when his wife developed a brain tumour and underwent a surgery last year. But the couple, who have a son, are determined not to be cowed down. “I drive to Vellore Christian Medical Centre every Thursday for my wife’s treatment,” he said. The entrepreneur’s dream is for his work to be picked up by an automotive engineering company, so that it can be widely recognised and distributed. “I have done so much almost single-handedly. Now, I want many disabled people, all over the world, to benefit from this,” Biju added. –  Courtesy