It is something else to dream and quite another to follow and live that dream. What we see so often in films manages to come alive in the real world. What I’m referring to is 35-year-old Santosh Hulawale, resident of New MHADA Colony. This man has created a robot, INDRO – a 6.5-foot humanoid prototype that promises to make the future of robotics in India bright and successful. “INDRO” or “India’s Robot”, is one of the most exciting exhibits to watch out for at IIT Powai’s much-awaited annual Techfest this weekend. INDRO will also be visiting other IIT campuses as well as VJTI.
What began as a child’s intense interest – creating robots of various kinds – remained a sprightly youth’s closely harboured desire. ‘My father used to be very upset when would see me busy with my robotic attempts instead of with my school books,’ Hulawale recalls but with no trace of remorse. Keeping his father’s wishes in mind, he went on to focus on is academics and completed his training as an engineer.
It took nine years for Hulawale’s first labour of love to see the day of light. At 55 kgs, the humanoid prototype housed in his residence has come to shape after many models. It is made of aluminium, wood, fabric, cardboard, and several such materials. INDRO, highly sophisticated, is intended to be of use in disaster relief, accident and emergency response and for security purposes, can lift weights of upto 150 kilograms.
Trial and error and the perseverance of steel lead this man to finally create INDRO. Of course, Hulawale’s eyes light up when he’s talking robotics – humanoid, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics at a global level. ‘India hasn’t as yet scaled up to match the kind of research and development being conducted in countries like Japan and USA,’ he says. Though disappointed with where the country stands on this kind of investment, Hulawale remain optimistic about the future now. The kind of prototypes he has developed showcase his brilliant vision and his dedicated efforts to spike the future of such a significant science.
That’s the reason he has been recognised by Indian Insitute of Technology and been invited to the biggest technology fest in the country.
Hulawale’s products have a wide range of applications – from helping the disabled to serving in defence sectors, from industrial purposes to security measures. What stops his babies from making deeper marks in the world is the long wait for funding and advocacy. Hulawale has spent close to 20 lakh on this one project, exhausting much of his savings and resources. He needs more financial support – from individuals and from the government – to continue his work and create a change for the better.
Exhibiting at the IIT Techfest is one step towards this dream as Hulawale hopes to attract the right people. Here’s wishing him the very best of luck!