July, 22, 2017
The Man-Machine Combination
16 Jun
2017
Posted by Poornima Kavlekar

Pulkit Gaur had been obsessed with robots since his childhood and turned his passion into a business in 2007. Today, Gridbots has to its credit several firsts in the robotics sector including building India’s first under water robot for BARC and conceptualizing the country’s first collaborative robot called cobot that works in tandem with humans.

“I wanted to break the myth that a high-tech manufacturing company cannot be built out of  India and compete with existing players in the global market place,” says Pulkit Gaur, the founder of Gridbots Technologies, a company that works in the field of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Vision.

For Gaur, Robotics is more than just business. It’s his passion and something that has been a part of him since his childhood. He turned this passion into a business venture in 2007 by setting up Gridbots with an intention of solving the problem of dirty, dangerous and dull processes in organisations. He explains, “I wanted to build a robot that can solve real life problems with utmost efficiency and intelligence.” It’s no wonder then that Gaur has received the TED Fellowship – MIT Young Innovator Award and Rajiv Motwani Circle Fellowship, apart from several other national and international awards for his technological innovations.

Continuing to be bootstrapped, Gridbots has made good progress in the last 10 years. It has deployed close to 100 robots so far, which find their homes in medical and military sectors and are also used in industries to ease the manufacturing process. “We spent around seven to eight years of our time on research in various technology domains. When we are competing against German, Japanese and American companies, we were determined to set new standards and sell to MNCs,” says Gaur. While the company’s client base has multiplied since the time it started, it was only in 2014 that it started offering its industrial solutions. Its clients include Ministry of Home Affairs (New Delhi), National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), Indian Navy, Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), ONGC, Tata Power, ISRO, PRL, Gujarat Police, to name a few.  The company currently has a team size of 30 and has four offices in Ahmedabad. It has business partners in other cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and is also planning to find a partner in Chennai shortly.


Ours was the first robot that was used for under water operations. We were contacted by BARC who were looking for solutions where robots can work under water, that too in contaminated conditions, due to high radiation level


How do you use these robots?

“There is tremendous scope for improvement in areas where workers are being employed. They work in situations that are really dirty, dangerous and, sometimes even, dull,” states Gaur, while also noting the technological progress the Indian manufacturing sector has made over the years.  Even large MNCs have employed people to do some routine tasks like picking and placing things. Gridbots has built robots to replace these dull tasks which can be automated, improving efficiency for industries and safety for humans. This apart, some of the other applications include tank cleaning and inspection, pipe cleaning and inspection, material handling gripper, nuclear and space robotics, to name a few.

Gridbots is also creating an environment to enable collaboration and has built robots that work alongside humans. “Our robots are cobots – collaborative robots. It is safe for humans to work with the machine and the robot,” says Gaur. This gives flexibility to let robots perform repetitive tasks and increase productivity in terms of throughput with no risk involved. The overall environment is safe and fast. Gaur explains, “Robots don’t work only on sensors but also have vision systems. There are cameras monitoring the robots, and if there is any situation, the robots stop working automatically and create a safety net around the machine”. Gridbots is one of the few companies in the world which has developed the complete stack in-house – the hardware, intelligent vehicles that can move around in the industry and systems which can understand the environment around it and take action.

A feather in its cap

Gaur beams with pride when he talks about his project for BARC and manufacturing robots for nuclear applications. “Ours was the first robot that was used for under water operations. We were contacted by BARC who were looking for solutions where robots can work under water, that too in contaminated conditions, due to high radiation levels.” The company developed a half ton robot that was 4 feet long and 3 feet wide, which could enter the radiation tank and contain any sediment there.

Talking about another interesting project, Gaur recalls an injection moulding company that is a contract manufacturer for IKEA, the global furniture major. Gridbots’s robots go inside the machines, take the manufactured parts out and put it in the conveyor within a stipulated time. This process was being done by humans, who were replaced by robots, as per IKEA’s policy of ‘safety first’.

Overcoming challenges

The company faced multiple challenges since the time it was incorporated. For instance, almost 80 per cent of its revenue was spent towards research and hence, there was a lot of burn rate. “For us it was difficult as we also had to sustain the organisation at the same time,” declares Gaur. Time was one of the constraints as it had to deliver the solution accurately and on time. “Apart from these traditional challenges, the big one was to get the investors to trust us and invest in our company,” says he. The company has not raised funds so far and is open for investment but is looking only for strategic investors.

Where to next

Gaur believes that referrals play a major role and the company aims to acquire customers based on trust and reliability factor. While the company will continue to participate in exhibitions, it is word of mouth that boosts its business. This apart, Gridbots is planning to expand its horizons in the Asian and Australian markets. “We want to remain as systems manufacturers (a link to OEMs) and partner with people who will buy our robots and create solutions around them,” states Gaur. Going forward, the company is planning to reach and solve the problem of smart warehousing through its complete solution. Finally, it plans to enter new domains and partner with people who are well established in the market.


The Need

Solve the problem of dirty, dangerous and dull processes in industrial settings

The Solution

Gridbots has built robots to replace these dull tasks which can be automated, improving efficiency for industries and safety for humans. It also offers other applications including tank cleaning and inspection, pipe cleaning and inspection, material handling gripper, nuclear and space robotics, to name a few.

Gridbots is also creating an environment of collaboration and has built robots that work alongside humans called cobots – collaborative robots. They have sensors  and vision systems.


Quick Bytes

 

  • A high-tech robotics manufacturing company from India
  • Bootstrapped, Growth through internal accruals
  • Deployed close to 100 robots
  • Clients include Ministry of Home Affairs (New Delhi), National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), Indian Navy, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), ONGC, Tata Power, ISRO, PRL, Gujarat Police, to name a few
  • Created COBOTS – collaborative robots that can work along with humans

 


Snapshot

Gridbots Technologies

Year: 2007

Headquarter: Ahmedabad

Funding: Self-funded. Looking for strategic investors

Profile: Gridbots is a Robotics company from India that works in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Vision. The company develops state of the art robotic systems and technologies that redefine problem solving in an innovative manner. In fact, Gridbots has created an environment of collaboration and has built robots that work alongside humans – otherwise called cobots.

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