Published: 04th April 2019
Odisha's Phoenix Robotix is on a mission to make sure you breathe clean air at home. Here's how
Phoenix Robotix aims to build sustainable cities. Their products help monitor air quality, weather and more and in the future, they aspire to be the Google of sustainability
The fact that seven out of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in India should really shake us up, but we are used to such reports by now. But there are entrepreneurs who are sincerely working towards making our cities better. One such start-up is Phoenix Robotix. Started by Amiya Kumar Samantaray, Kishan Kumar Patel, Akanksha Priyadarshini, Asish Sahoo, Nataraj Sahoo and Ashutosha Sarangi, nurtured by NIT Rourkela and recognised by not just the Government of Karnataka, but even the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee, Phoenix Robotix aims to build sustainable cities. Their products help monitor air quality, weather and more and in the future, they aspire to be the Google of sustainability. So what are the obstacles they have faced along the way? In a conversation with Founder and CEO Amiya Kumar Samantaray, we found this out and a whole lot more. Excerpts:
Can you tell us a little about your product Aurassure and how you managed to bring down the price point?
Aurassure is an Internet of Things (IoT) platform for cities to monitor air quality, weather and urban flooding in various microenvironments. The platform uses Data Science and Machine Learning to provide localised forecasting and alert generation, which can help governments understand the environment in a much deeper way. The solution can identify the source of pollution and possibilities of an urban flooding scenario, ultimately helping cities avoid such serious hazards. The technology used in the devices is different with some limitations, but with our algorithms, we have managed to achieve the desired results as compared to the existing solutions. Our Aurassure device is modular, scalable and easily retrofits to the existing infrastructure. Apart from this, our platform provides a unique experience with a multitude of applications integrated into one.
They have the mentorship of Prof KK Mohaptro and Prof Rajeev Panda from NIT Rourkela to thank and NIT Rourkela’s incubation centre as well
Can you give us an instance of Aurassure being extremely beneficial to a client?
Aurassure has been deployed in various cities across India such as Rajkot, Bhubaneswar, Siliguri, Coimbatore, Udaipur, Kolkata and more. In the first phase of its implementation, the objective was capacity building and increasing the awareness level of decision makers and people. We have deployed fully-integrated flood management and air quality monitoring systems in Kolkata Municipal Corporation, with the help of Taru Leading Edge and Asian Development Bank. The project has automated the monitoring process of pump stations across the city and enhanced the transparency level. The high volume deployment of devices provides insights on urban heat island effect due to heavy traffic in certain areas during specific times of the day. With the coming monsoon, the system will be really helpful for the authorities to manage floods.
What is it about your other product Datoms that really clicks?
Datoms is an industrial IoT platform which can help industries monitor various parameters such as energy, flow, temperature, process parameters and provide them with valuable insights to optimise operation and increase the efficiency of the process.
What have been the two major bottlenecks that you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Building an electronics hardware start-up is usually difficult and takes a lot of hard work and dedication. With very little knowledge, we started the journey and, as expected, it was a bumpy one. Taking our prototype to the product stage and achieving scale was a crucial challenge. But we struggled and managed to find a solution after spending more than eighteen months conducting experiments and learning from our mistakes. This could have been better, I believe. But now we have understood how to make the process leaner and faster. The other challenge is building a highly efficient, innovative, creative and dedicated team from scratch. Attracting talent in the initial days was a big challenge without having a big paycheck to offer. Our core team has spent a lot of time searching for the right set of people who have the passion and the desire to achieve our vision. The ownership, freedom and flexibility has given each of our team members the confidence to strive for the best. As founders, we always ensure the same in our culture, work and day-to-day operation.
All together: The team members of Phoenix Robotix | (Pic: Phoenix Robotix)
Seeing that smart cities are the buzz word now, how else do you see your solutions contributing to them?
The number of cities has been constantly growing and more than 50 per cent of the Indian population is living in urban areas. Though smart cities is a buzz word among Indians, sustainability still remains a key challenge while the cities look to fulfil high demands in various sectors. We as a company are passionate about building technologies which can help cities solve major challenges and avoid disasters. Be it air pollution, urban flooding, hygienic drinking water, we are providing a platform to assure people in the environment they are living.
What does the future look like for Phoenix Robotix?
The future is about a smart and connected ecosystem, digital infrastructure, smart cities, smart industries and our innovation is an integral part of it. We aspire to become the Google of sustainability. Our product is futuristic and tries to solve challenges in upcoming cities and we believe we will create technologies that will help improve resilience and response from a single platform.
The accolades they've amassed
- They were invited by the Royal Academy of Engineers, UK for their innovation in technology and its impact on society
- They were among the top ten innovations for smart cities at the Innovate for Digital India Challenge (IDIC) 2015 hosted by DST and CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad and mentored by Intel and UC Berkeley
- They are a member of the Delhi Environmental Council and Central Pollution Control Board
- They have been awarded by the Chief Minister of Karnataka for the implementation of smart city solutions in the city of Bengaluru
Signs that the air at home is not as healthy as you think
- If you notice persistent black spots (moulds) or damp areas on your walls, then it could be an indicator of an increase in biological pollutants inside your home
- If you see a sudden increase in unusual health symptoms or allergies in any of your family members, that is probably a bad sign
- If an area of your house is unusually cooler or hotter than the others at different times of the day, it needs your attention
- On the top is a wind speed and direction sensor. It helps gauge the direction the wind is blowing and the speed it is blowing in
- The cup shaped object in the middle is the rain gauge. It is a rain collector. It sends the data about the rain collected to their Aurassure device
- The device at the end of the pole is the filter which is letting the air pass through. The sensors in it measure the levels of different pollutants in the air
For more on them, phoenixrobotix.com