Hailing from a middle-class family in a small village of Santaragadia in Odisha, 20-year-old Neelamadhaba was an inquisitive child who loved machines. He’d draw sketches of machines that he aspired to build; at 16, he sketched a humanoid and showed it to his friends.
“They made fun of me saying I could never build such a complex robot. But I wanted to show them it’s possible,” Neelamadhaba recalls.
With the experience he gained building a small machine in school, he began ideating his new andro-humanoid robot. “Once, I ended up visiting an old age home, and saw the lonely elderly people there. I immediately knew what to do: I decided to make a robot that could give them company.”
He then told his parents he wanted to make a robot that can express feelings, “The idea sounded absurd to them. They didn’t lend me money to buy the spare parts I needed and asked me to forget about it. I had no access to a computer or even an internet connection, but I managed to develop a plan for a prototype and presented it to the Science and Technology Department, Government of Odisha.”
It was accepted and he moved out of his village to pursue his innovation, now funded by an NGO. He picked up some basic engineering skills and began working on the robot full-time.
Neelamadhaba failed over a hundred times trying to make it work. “At one point, even I thought I couldn’t do it. But I had already taken on the challenge, I couldn’t give up now.”
In just 10 months, Neelamadhaba, put together ROBO-NEEL, a 5’3” tall robot that could express sadness, happiness, anger and communicate with people. Through its sound recognizing sensors that can detect words, the robot receives outside commands and acts accordingly. Its face can express feelings like a human being.
Neelamadhaba took his innovation to IIT-Bhubaneshwar for verification, where the professors appreciated his work. He wishes to get the robot mass-produced and deploy it at old-age homes, hotels and restaurants.
Mahindra salutes the challenger spirit of people like Neelamadhaba who remind us that with grit and determination, we can change the world and help the people around us. #Rise