Meghalaya uses AI-enabled tech to clean up tourist hotspot Umiam lake

IANS Photo

Shillong, September 3 (IANS): Meghalaya has adopted Artificial Intelligence enabled robotic technology to keep it's beautiful tourist hotspot Umiam lake clean, as the lake at an altitude of about 4,900 feet is also a major hub for water sports and boating in hill town Shillong.

The AI-integrated robotic boat is able to collect huge quantities of garbage in reasonable time from Umiam Lake, that was formed when a dam was built over the Umiam river in the early sixties as part of a hydel power project.

Under the Meghalaya government’s Smart Village initiative, the AI- enabled robotic boat was recently deployed in collaboration with a global non-profit organisation called Smart Village Movement (SVM), and Hong Kong-based technology firm Clearbot after a week-long demonstration.

Tulenam Laloo, Fellow at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and Director of Operations for the initiative in Meghalaya, highlighted that “this technology was first tested in Bali (Indonesia) and tried to transfer such capabilities to Meghalaya, a growing tourist destination today, to solve waste collection in a famous.

“Such models will create standard processes to handle waste in a timely manner making operations more efficient than conventional ones. These technologies must be leveraged to a great extent to address the growing menace of waste in general but particularly help scale such operations to similar locations and bring back a thriving ecology and magnificent touristic experiences,” Laloo told IANS.

Ramkumar, a senior IAS official and nodal officer of the Smart Village Movement in Meghalaya said that innovation is not just by accident, it is the concerted effort of people who really want to bring change.

“Everyone has capabilities to create change at their own level. We were excited to see this pilot taking shape and witness a milestone in waste management. This initiative aligns with our commitment to foster a cleaner and more sustainable environment through technology-driven solutions,” he said.

Siddhant Gupta, founder of Clearbot shared, “At Clearbot, we're excited to join forces with the Smart Village Movement to revitalise local waterways in Meghalaya.”

This partnership exemplifies the commitment to innovative solutions for environmental rejuvenation. Through this pilot, we aim to demonstrate how technology-driven clean-up initiatives can contribute to holistic rural development, aligning with the Movement's vision for a sustainable future, Gupta said.

“The robot is unmanned, battery-powered that could collect plastic waste on the shoreline or in waterways. The batteries are charged via solar panels at the on-land docking station and the boat can either be set to run autonomously or guided by remote operator.”

The technology presents an economical method for effectively removing debris, oil, operating on electric power. With the capacity to gather as much as 15 litres of oil and 200 kilograms of floating refuse daily, these models need to be explored in our state, said Pynshai Marpna, one of the robotic boat project officials.

The Meghalaya Smart Village Movement (SVM) is a collaborative process facilitated by the SVM with the UC Berkeley-Haas Center of Growth Markets to create a Smart Village ecosystem.

In partnership with Government, Academia, Corporations, and Rural Communities, they foster independence and sustainable rural development in Indian villages and other emerging markets.

The SVM aims to empower rural people through digital technologies and open innovation platforms to access global markets, Laloo pointed out.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma highly appreciated the AI-integrated robotic boat project, which is likely to be executed in other lakes, ponds and water bodies in Meghalaya.

Commenting on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Chief Minister said: “In a landmark step towards advancing waste management practices, an innovative demonstration featuring an AI-Integrated marine robotic boat for floating waste collection took place at Kyndong Rella in the Mawdun Area of Umiam Lake.

The initiative was spearheaded by the Meghalaya government under its Smart Village Movement in collaboration with technology partner Clearbot.