Pulkit Gaur – TEDIndia Fellow

The second interview with TED India Fellows. This time it is Pulkit Gaur. His first article got published when he was 15 years old and from then on, there was no stopping. Currently, he is the CTO of Gridbots, the company he founded.

In this interview he discusses his favourite project yet, his love for robotics, obstacles and role models…

I took a look at your resume and seeing the length of it, my jaw dropped. You have done quite a lot. Which do you consider to be the project that is closest to your heart?

ALIAS – is the project which is closest to my heart. As it took me about a year to complete it and it required a lot of my time and resources. I designed and fabricated it without any external help. It is a state of the art robot and uses advanced techniques and approaches used in modern robotics.

What was the “stimulus” for your interest in software, hardware and robotics from such an early age?

I was always fascinated by robots and wanted to make my own robots. I discovered that to make advanced robots I need to be good at software and hardware both – so I started honing my skills in both and tried to implement whatever I learnt in a practical manner – which helped me quite a bit and soon I started enjoying it.
And today it has become my life – I live, dream and think robotics.

Would you like to tell us more about ALIAS

ALIAS is a modular research robot which I started making by getting inspiration from Mars Rover Spirit and Opportunity.
I started working on this Robot in my 3rd year of engineering – I used indigenous designs and locally available and material to fabricate ALIAS.
Here are some of the features of ALIAS.
• Biologically Inspired Active vision System (Automatic Object and face detection)
• Common Sense
• Contains one remote payload for critical applications (Complete onboard control of remote unit)
• Voice Assist and feedback
• GPS based co-ordinate mapper with automatic navigation.
• Laser based movement Encoding system.
• Efficient robot task planner module.
• Direction, Illumination, Temperature, obstacle .Fire and smoke, and other various sensors.
• Real-time Ultrasonic range mapper.
• Innovative LADAR system (Laser and Infrared based range mapping)
• Shortest path and critical path navigation
• Automatic, Gesture, Voice, Wireless, Wired (Ethernet), Programmed mode of control.
• Electronic, Electrical and Mechanical design optimized for efficiency and resource saving.
The total robot cost was close to about 65-70 k – which I borrowed from my parents and used the prize money I used to win in various competitions.

Wow, that was a heavy dose of ALIAS!

Congrats on the most recent recognition, the TED fellowship. I’m sure you are elated about it, you did mention it in your blog as well. Share with us a few obstacles you faced and how you tackled them?

When I started with Gridbots – we wanted to develop intelligent machine vision technology and use it in robots and intelligent machines. As this is a research field – you need a lot of efforts and resource.
And as we did not have a constant revenue stream and soon we ran out of cash and savings and had to look for an alternative sources of revenue. I opted to start with educational robotics – the main reason being – that revenue generation was quick and there was no requirement of huge investment to start. And I always wanted to give back to society by spreading awareness about robotics.
Second major problem which still persists is of good talent – and to be able to be a world class company in the field of robotics we need good people. Currently we have a very small team with highly motivated and talented individuals. But we need more and more people who are passionate about this field to join us to do good work.

You have done a great job with software as well as hardware, and your articles were published when you were 15. Obviously, you must have worked hard towards it. Give us a brief about your childhood. Do you have any words for the students of today?

I used to be inquisitive since my childhood days and used to believe in learning by doing methodology.

After coming from school – I used to get into my room which I used to call as lab, here I used to work with circuits: old electronic devices, computer and other electronic devices.

I also used to read a lot of books on electronic design and digital electronics – which helped me in understanding the concepts in a better way and execute the ideas in an efficient manner.

For the students of today – I’d suggest for them to concentrate more on practical aspects of science and technology – which will give them insight about the complex concepts and help them understand things in a better manner.

You are the founder and CTO at Gridbots now, what does the company focus on and what are the future plans for Gridbots?

Gridbots focuses on technology which can make machines smarter and intelligent. We make robots for industrial and military purposes.
Our focus is technology and research and we want to remain ahead in this field by practicing continuous innovation and research.

Some role models would have been sources of inspiration. Tell us about your role models.

My role model is Steve Wozniak – I personally admire him for his personal traits and his vision. He is simply a genius and a constant innovator.
I am also influenced by Steve jobs and his philosophy towards business and technology.

With Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs as your role models, I’m sure you are big fan of Apple!! Are you?

Yeah, I am a big apple fan.

Looking back at your past achievements and the path you have chosen, given a chance, would you do anything differently?

Nope, I wouldn’t change anything.

WOW! A guy with no regrets – That’s Pulkit Gaur for you.

More Interviews coming up :

Neha Gupta
(US) – Computer scientist, humanitarian, entrepreneur, dancer and co-founder of EachOneTeachOne, a website for online volunteer education

Sarath Guttikunda (India) – Founder of UrbanEmissions.Info, a repository of information and research related to air pollution

Asher Hasan (Pakistan/US) – Founder CEO of NAYA JEEVAN, a social enterprise dedicated to providing low-income families with affordable access to quality, catastrophic healthcare

If you got any questions for them, do drop it here.


Joseph S Jayanth

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