KOCHI: Friday morning saw Kochi waking up to a huge crowd gathering around a coconut tree in front of the Coconut Development Board’s office on SRVHS Road. Every head in the crowd was turned skywards, squinting to see what was happening on the tree top.
The event was the demonstration of a prototype of a remote-controlled robot designed to climb a coconut tree and pluck coconuts on its own. The prototype, which works on the principle of pneumatics, was designed by Zacharias Mathew, a Mumbai-based Keralite, who has a bunch of other innovations in his pocket.
“The prototype can climb the tree on its own by using compressed air formed by the power from a diesel generator. It is fitted with a blade on top, which helps pluck the coconut,” said Zacharias Mathew. “I devised it based on a request from the Coconut Development Board since there is a shortage of skilled labourers in the field,” he said.
Though the demonstration was not successful, Zacharias said the prototype is a very basic design and more features would be added to it. “Currently, the weight of the machine is around 50 kg. If the heavy metal parts are replaced with lighter ones, the weight could be reduced to less than 20 kg. I am also planning to fit a camera on top of the device so that the person who is operating the machine from the ground can clearly manoeuvre the cutter of the machine,” he added.
Coconut Development Board Chairman T K Jose said that the Board had asked for such an invention to meet the acute shortage of coconut pluckers in the state. “Although the current requirement of such labourers exceeds 30,000, fewer than 10,000 are available.