Access to clean water is something that many take for granted. It is indeed an essential part of everyone’s life, but for some it is easier than others. It is reported that 1 in 10 people in India do not have easy access to water. For these people it is a long, often time consuming journey to travel to a well, collect water, and return home. Only to have to repeat the task multiple times a week.
Of course, there are ways to solve these problems permanently, but this takes time. And, for the moment other solutions must be looked at to help alleviate the level of inconvenience. How? With a robot named Husky who is currently being looked at as a way to lend a hand to those who need it most.
What Is Husky?
The University of Glasgow and the Amrita University in India joined forces to come up with a way to assist rural Indians. Specifically, to assist them with the aforementioned problems of access to clean water. The solution they arrived at was not what would be called conventional, and certainly raised a few eyebrows. They decided that a water delivery robot might be the answer, and who wouldn’t think the idea a little strange?
Clearpath Robotics was contacted, and they developed the Husky robot. Although not an especially complicated design in terms of functionality, the device is perfectly suited for one specific task; delivering water. And if you feel you might like a handy little robot of your own, keep in mind that the cost of developing this robot was not cheap. Winning a jackpot or two while playing pokies might be needed, just to cover the costs.
The robot can carry three 20-litre bottles, and is able to tackle a wide range of difficult terrains. And yes, it has two unconvincing eyes on it’s front, and communicates with people in a pre-recorded male voice.
Why Is Husky Unique?
As already said, Husky is not an especially complicated design. The device appears much like a modified remote controlled car, for the most part. What made the use of the robot unique, however, was that researchers were keen to see how people would respond to a robot in their home environments.
Dr Amol Deshmukh is a researcher at the School of Computing Science, and had a hand in the development of the Husky robot. To him one of the most important parts of the project was to see how residents in rural areas would respond to Husky. Such robots have major labour saving potential, Dr Deshmukh said, but how these electronic helpers would be seen in developing areas is still largely unknown.
Husky A Success
The Husky robot was a success in Southern India, where it was tested at length. And, based on the videos available, the residents of the area certainly didn’t seem anything but interested in the presence of the robot. And for the most part, the children seemed nothing more than curious.
Given this success, it seems possible that such devices may be used more readily in the future, where they are required, and would offer the most benefit. According to Dr Deshmukh, there is much interest from the UN in using these robots, helping with sustainable development goals across the world.
One can only hope that more robots like Husky will soon be around to lend a hand to rural communities, and can help them not only to simplify their water collection process, but assist in many other ways too.