When we think of robots and other pathbreaking technological developments, we are quick to attribute it to places like China, Japan, America and other places where technological development is at its peak. But there is no dearth of talent and genius within our very own country. Did you know about Shalu, the Indian robot who speaks up to 38 Languages? Inspired by Ra. One and Chitti, Shalu is the brainchild of a UP teacher who created this advanced humanoid robot within the 4 walls of his house using spare parts. Read on to find out the journey of bringing Shalu, a fully functioning robot to life!
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Dinesh Patel, the Creator of Shalu the Robot
It was Dinesh Patel’s hard work that turned Shalu, his lifelong imagination into a glimmering reality. . Dinesh Patel is a robotics scientist and a computer science teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT Powai in Mumbai. Hailing from an extremely humble background, Shalu was created using recycled objects and spare parts that were readily available in the market. What was initially a pastime hobby quickly transformed into an immersive project that led to the creation of the world’s first social humanoid robot that could speak up to 9 Indian languages and 38 foreign languages.
Inspiration Behind the Making
Dinesh Patel conceived the idea of Shalu after watching a Rajnikant film “Robot” that featured a similar humanoid robot named chitti. This made Patel wonder if it was indeed possible to construct one such humanoid robot that could mimic human interactions and emotions. His conviction was further bolstered when Robot Sophia was developed by Hanson Robotics, a Hong-Kong based Robotics Company. Dinesh met with initial challenges of finding the necessary spare parts and the technology to create Shalu. Dinesh shifted his focus on whatever was available and made use of locally sourced and commonly available spares parts, including motors, circuits plastic, aluminium, cardboard, wood, etc. and other components for the construction with an expenditure of 50,000 rupees.
Wonders of Shalu the Rob
After 3 years of incessant hard work, Shalu came into being. Patel described Shalu as “ lovely soft-spoken, multi-talented, multi-lingual Robot capable of speaking 9 Indian languages such as Hindi, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Bangla, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Nepali in addition to 38 foreign languages viz. German, Japanese, etc. Shalu embodies a diverse set of capabilities such as mimicking human interaction, responding to questions, shaking hands, laughing, expressing anger and irritation. Some of the key features of Shalu include facial recognition, the memory of human faces, identification of objects, ability to read news from newspapers, read horoscopes providing weather forecast to name a few. Shalu also has a quirky sense of humour and the ability for small talk, making her an ideal companion.
Patel believes Shalu is at a very nascent stage of creating, making her unfit for practical use. He aims to work on Shalu to increase its functionalities. As far as the future goes, he hopes to enable Shalu with a better display of emotions using 3D print, better movement of body parts by fitting high-quality motors, a latex face mask for facilitating facial expressions and enhancing its social skills so as to extend its usage into lecture rooms, receptions, answering queries and more!
This was all about the journey of Shalu the robot. Dinesh Patel’s story is proof enough that where there is an indestructible will, there will always be a way. If you like this story please share and subscribe to Leverage Edu for more exciting content.