In a city, where water needs of all its residents are not met through piped water, borewells are a go-to solution for many.
Bengaluru has a few lakh borewells, and many of them fail after digging with no water. The failed ones, if left uncovered, can turn into death traps for unsuspecting children, who can easily fall into these deep holes that vary in width from 8 to 10 inches.
It was this problem and past instances of children trapped into borewells that prodded final semester students of PES Polytechnic Raghothama P, Achutha R, Adithya P, Ashray Aksh, Pavan Kumar, Tejas R, and Amith Gowda to come up with Borot, a robotised-saving device for accidents that happen in unguarded borewells.
“The device works on the principle of rack and pinion mechanism. It can be controlled by Android devices and can work on normal electricity and sealed acid batteries,” said Raghothama, 18.
Borot is fitted with a spy strike miniature camera on a robotic arm, which can slide down inside a bore and send live videos to a screen. With its sensors, it can analyse poisonous gas detection, motion of a child who may have fallen into one.
“If a child is alive, the device will set off an air balloon through a separate chord. This will go beneath the child and inflate, to arrest further sinking,” he adds.
Borewells, are usually dug in the range of 200 to 1,600 feet in Bengaluru. If a child falls into one, the survival rate is only 1%, according to Bhustalimath BM, a freelance groundwater consultant.
“When a child falls into a borewell, the reaction time is most crucial. For every 100 feet, the temperature rises by a degree, inside the earth’s crust. This combined with gases like methane make survival extremely difficult,” he said.
Though the government by law has made it mandatory for unused, abandoned or failed borewells to be covered, in rural areas, many are still left open due to negligence. Currently, if a child falls into a borewell, rescues operations are primarily manual, where a camera is sent into the hole to gauge the situation.
Then depending on how deep a child has fallen, either a person is sent in, to retrieve or a parallel bore is dug, from where another horizontal bore is dug. Rescue operations must be fast and precise with the best of geophysical instruments.
“But in south India where the soil is rocky, it is not easy to estimate the size of a rock that blocks access. Moreover, intensive drilling can make the rock collapse on the child, or even the entire borewell,” points out Bhustalimath.
Borot, which was displayed at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bengaluru took 45 days to make from the day the idea was born. However, currently, it’s only a prototype or concept and needs to be tested in real-life situations, to understand its full usability.
“The model is scalable. However, the capacity of the device has to be increased in terms of power, weightlifting and more sensors can be added to make it foolproof,” says Priyanka C, a mechanical engineering teacher at PES Polytechnic, who mentored the team of Borot.