US President Joe Biden has written a letter of appreciation to 14 yrs old Bhavana Katta who is a class nine student at Flower Mound Marcus in North Texas, USA. She has created a Robot to fight infections or clean surfaces with UV light and disinfectant amid covid pandemic. She has invented the first version of, the Virus Combat Robot, or VCR for short. This bot is having a boxy body sitting atop wheels, a white head with a human-like face on top, and two large foam arms falling at its sides with high-tech looking fingertips. The arms were made using old pool noodles and controlled by her key pad. This robot uses the UV lights and disinfectant sprayer to clean and disinfect any surface. This unique VCR uses two web cameras, one in the head and the other in the body, to help the user navigate it remotely from a tablet computer. It can then roll through areas and spray a sanitizing disinfectant from its fingertips onto objects like furniture, surfaces, and walls – really anywhere you’d need to disinfect. She has designed the mechanical components of the VCR all the way down to the web-based controls she uses to navigate it. Katta also included speakers on the VCR so the user can talk to people who may be in an area that needs to be sanitized, as well as a hand sanitizer dispenser in the bot’s belly so they can de-germ themselves on the way out the door.
In an exclusive interaction with our editor, Rajesh Vatsa, she explains her journey and achievement. Her family is equally excited.
Tell us something about your VCR.
Bhavana: VCR stands for Virus Combat Robot. The robot is controlled by the web and I have the web control user friendly and easy to access. The robot is about 5 ft height, moves on wheels and also has speed control, and has 2 arms. So, the head is 3D printed and it can tilt and pan (2 DOF). And, it does this because the camera is in the head so when the user needs to look down from the camera at the ground, they can. The left arm goes 2 degrees of freedom (DOF) and in the left hand the middle finger is where the disinfectant sprayer comes out and the index and ring finger have UV lights so you can see where the disinfectant solution is going and the light kills bacteria. The right arm just gives a shake hand. In the middle there is screen. This robot is also a telepresence robot meaning that one person stands in front of the robot and the user stays where they are, and they can communicate through Jitsi (two way video and audio mobile conference). At the bottom there is a mobile touchless hand sanitizer dispenser. Finally, at the back there is an emergency stop button if something goes wrong.
From where and How the idea to create VCR came into your thoughts.
Bhavana: The reason why I built this robot is because I saw some of my staff members at school disinfecting desks, chairs, and other furniture. And, the disinfecting solution is dangerous and harmful to the human body. So, my idea is that the staff member controls the robot at a far distance, staying safe.
What kind of role does Technology could play in our lives in the future?
Bhavana: Technology plays an important role in our lives today and in the future because our daily life is based on what technology does for us and we can’t live without it. Recently, technology is growing faster and it surrounds us everywhere we are. So, we should be aware of technology and how dependent we live off of it.
Which are your favorite subjects at the school?
Bhavana: Physics, Math, Electrical, Robotics, and Computer Programming are the subjects I like the most. I always love to read about science. Anything related with Computers always excited me.
Who else has helped you to create VCR?
Bhavana: My Dad, my Mom, and my little Brother have helped me to create this. They are equally excited to see that its working fine and now President Sir has appreciated our invention.
How do you feel after receiving the recognition from the US President and Vice President?
Bhavana: I feel proud and surprised to get that type of honor. I didn’t expect to get anything from creating VCR, but after receiving the letter I feel very prominent and grateful. This will motivate me to do better and I am working on it to improve it further.
VCR kind of innovations could help humanity at large. What else are you thinking of inventing in the future?
Bhavana: Another idea that I am planning to create in the future is a robot that alerts students at school when a bus has arrived, this is because teachers don’t have to stand outside in the hot or cold while doing bus duty. I am working on this.
What kind of support do you get from your teachers and family?
Bhavana: Everyone supports me in everything I do, they all encourage me and give me recognition for what I create and what I am talented in. My parents are very caring and understanding, they support me in all the decisions I take. My little brother is smart, and I am a thankful elder sister.
In which college would you like to join after school?
Bhavana: I would like to go to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to study electrical engineering and computer science. This is my goal to achieve further. I would like to invent things which our people can use and benefit.
Who is your inspiration?
Bhavana: My inspirations are based on what incidents happen around the community and I find ways to solve those problems and make them better. I like to read about great scientists and new inventions, new technology.
Her father Mr. Srinivas Katta and Mother Mrs Gayatri Katta are so happy for Bhavana. They belong to Amalapuram, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, southern state in India. Gayatri Katta admires her daughter, “She is a God’s gift and I am filled with gratitude for her. Bhavana is an amazing daughter.” For her father, she is very smart and innovative, she is amazing. He says that Bhavana is very helpful in nature and is independent.