Maker Fest: Child prodigy Saarang Sumesh creates another useful robotic product

When the little boy saw his mother clean the floor of their house with some effort, he put his thinking cap on to help her get rid of daily drudgery in an ingenious way. He came out with a cleaning robot that sweeps the dust off the floor immaculately, much to the relief and amusement of his doting mother.

Eight-year-old Saarang Sumesh, who hails from Kochi in Kerala, did it when he was barely five and had just started going to school. And it earned him Rajeev Circle Fellowship, a ticket to Silicon Valley last year, and the moniker of a serial creator in robotics.The cleaning robot was a showstopper in the 2016 edition of Maker Fair at Ahmedabad, a top draw event for young innovators and startups introduced in India in 2013 by Asha Jadeja Motwani, a US-based serial angel investor, entrepreneur and backer of IT startups in India.

The list of Sumesh’s achievements is incredible. He was the youngest speaker among great scientists and makers across the world at Fab12 Conference (Fablab, MIT Boston) at Shenzhen, China; he is also the youngest Tedx Speaker in the world. Further, he participated as the youngest ‘Maker’ in the worlds’ largest Maker Faire in California, USA.

A Class III student of Choice School in Kochi, Sumesh has now come out with a smart seat belt, which can understand a string of accident scenarios and respond accordingly. It has additional safety for elderly people and small children.

Sumesh is expected to showcase the device at the ongoing fourth edition of Maker Fair here tomorrow. The innovative device can sense when the accident is happening and secure the safety of passengers. It can sense fire or water and release the seat belt quickly. It can also sense if a vehicle is upside down and slowly release the seat belt.

“I invented this device when I overheard a conversation between my father and mother describing problems of normal seat belts in a school bus that may not easily release after an accident and thus a great danger for children. I wanted to make this for small children in school buses,” said Sumesh, who started building complex machines like internal combustion engine models LEGO NxT robot from age three.

Explaining, he said the collision can be detected by accelerometers. It will not release the seat belt when the accident is happening but will secure passengers; after vibration stops the vehicle, wait for a few seconds and open the seat belt.The water and fire sensors in the device can detect water and fire, and if these are detected, the seat belts open automatically. A fire can happen even without accident. In that case, fire alarm in the device will display it to the driver and he can park his vehicle and everybody can escape.

“At times, a bus can get tilted in an inverted position, with wheels up, in an accident. In such a scenario, the seat belt will not release immediately but a motor attached to it will rotate and release it slowly. This is because if the seat belt unlocks immediately, children can fall down and damage their neck or head. The tilt is detected by tilt sensor,” he said.

That is not all. In all cases, an alarm will sound so that people can come and help. Messages will also be sent to police and fire station to help the trapped passengers. Sensors, placed in different parts of the bus, are connected using wireless. Wires can break in case of accidents, but Saarang’s device takes care of that as it is a wireless contraption.Sumesh, who is influenced by the Prime Minister’s ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, plans to build a bigger and stronger Arduino-based robot and attach it with a vacuum cleaner using brush-less motors.

“Sumesh is a child prodigy with amazing products under his belt. We provided him the Rajeev Circle Fellowship and brought him to Silicon Valley along with his father. He presented his robot at Maker Faire California and received huge acclaim,” said Asha, who heads Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation that is organizing the January 6-8 Maker Festival at Ahmedabad.

Sumesh, who was initiated into robotics by his engineer-father Sumesh V S, has also built a walking stick for the visually challenged, robotic hand, tricycle, Lego calculator, digital clock, ‘hand speed game, and a humanoid robot that can fire bullets. He builds the LEGO NxT robot models and Arduino projects using Raspberry Pi.A chess and football enthusiast, he now wants to build a vacuum cleaner robot and chess-playing and Sumo fighting robots. “I want to become a scientist and spread robotics awareness in India,” said Sumesh, probably the youngest maker of robots in India.

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