New Delhi: Two school girls from Mumbai have secured the first prize in the 2020 World Robot Olympiad, a global robotics competition for young people, for inventing a smart device that cools the hot air released from air conditioners and makes them more energy efficient.
Antara Patel, 11, and Prisha Patel, 12, students of the Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai, said they are close friends who spent at least six months developing the device under the guidance of coaches from On My Own Technology, a Mumbai-based coaching institute for robotics. Their victory in the robotics olympiad was announced on 15 November.
The Patels’ prototype was successful in reducing the impact of air conditioners on the environment by using sustainable materials like earthen clay pots. “We wanted to counter the electricity consumption that is caused by air conditioners,” Antara told ThePrint.
The World Robot Olympiad was held in Montreal, Canada, this year. The championship was first conducted in Singapore in 2004, and is held every year in October.
Over 26,000 teams from 75 countries took part in the 2020 edition, for which the theme was ‘Climate Squad’.
The Indian girls’ entry was selected from a pool of 60 teams from across the world. The olympiad was held online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the judges used videos, live interviews, presentations and working prototypes to select the winners.
Using clay cones to cool hot air
Air conditioners consume a high amount of energy, and the Patels wanted to find a solution to reduce electricity consumption. The prototype they made is called ‘Aqua Clay Atmosphere Cooler or ACsquare’, which uses clay cones to cool hot air released from air conditioners.
“The Aqua Clay Atmosphere Cooler is a natural filtering screen which is made using clay cones arranged in an aluminium frame,” explained Prisha.
The clay cones are kept moist using recycled water. Hot air blown by air conditioners is cooled immediately when it passes through these moist clay cones. The girls also said that since clay is easily available in Mumbai, it is a convenient alternative and also sustainable.
The girls used concepts of physics such as Boyle’s Law and the Venturi Effect to determine the shape and size of the clay cones. They connected temperature and humidity sensors with a robotic circuit to keep track of the air conditioner’s energy efficiency. The girls also developed an app with MIT App Inventor to set the correct temperatures for optimum cooling and energy conservation of air conditioners.
Both Antara and Prisha have been studying robotics for the past four years. “I am fascinated by robots and am keenly interested in problem-solving,” said Prisha.
Antara added, “I believe that we can solve any problem in the world with robots.”