IIT Bombay announces 'E-Yantra' - pan India

challenge on robotics


Institute to encourage 'Open-Source' environment

 in Young India


Envisages E-Yantra to harness young intellectual talent to create utility

based robotic applications for usage across a variety of applications such

as agriculture, manufacturing, defence, home, city maintenance and services industries


Mumbai, July 3, 2012: The Indian Institute of Bombay (IITB), a leading science and technology institution in the country, today announced the launch of 'E-Yantra'- a pan India challenge on robotics. What sets this initiative apart from others is its format. While other challenges expect students to build their own robots, E-Yantra presents them with a robot developed at IIT-Bombay, and encourages them to develop solutions to pre-set tasks using these robots. This makes robotics accessible to students - registered in an Engineering College as undergraduates - across a variety of disciplines such as Computer Science, Information Technology,

Electrical and Electronics, and Mechanical Engineering.


IIT Bombay envisages the 'E-Yantra' platform to harness the intellectual talent of young India to create utility based robotic applications for usage across variety of applications such as: agriculture, manufacturing, defense, home, city maintenance and services industries. The overall mission is to grow a rich eco-system of ideas and applications that can propel India's growth curve and productivity through intelligent funnelling of robotics in daily living built upon an existing pool of knowledge developed by students working on such projects at engineering colleges in the area of embedded systems.


The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) sponsors E-Yantra under the National Mission for ICT in Education (NMEICT) program. The initiative seeks to provide hands-on learning-infrastructure to engineering students who have limited access to labs and mentors. With an overall objective to create a practical outlook to help students recognize problems they observe and solve them using a little robot developed by the IIT-Bombay team over the last 5 years. Professors Kavi Arya and Krithi Ramamritham of the institute's CSE Department have conceptualized E-Yantra after years of experience in teaching embedded systems.


Traditionally when students wished to do a robotics project, they had to first build a robot, then work on the project, often faltering at the first hurdle. The resultant project was often a crude robot and little else. Now they have a commodity robot and an existing open source code base to draw upon to model a sophisticated solution to a problem.


The 'open-source' E-Yantra initiative by IIT Bombay aims to create the next generation of Indian embedded systems engineers with a practical outlook to help provide practical solutions to some of our problems. Solving a problem in the small is the way even 'grown up' engineers first approach a real problem - this helps us to understand things better to provide a better thought out solution.


Speaking about Project E-Yantra, Professor Kavi Arya, Conceptualiser & Overall Coordinator (Principal Investigator) said*, 'India is at an interesting evolutionary moment in the global stage. We need to harness the youthful talent to solving our country's problems through innovative applications in the field of robotics. For instance, why can't we create a 'Jhaddo-Khatka' robot, which can be deployed across public and private spaces? An important part of this initiative is to inspire the youth to look beyond themselves and solve the problems of the nation by leveraging their innovative thinking'.


The pan-India E-Yantra challenge is open to all undergraduate students of engineering. Each group will program a given robotic platform to solve a given problem with the given resources in a 12-week duration. The experience will be taken to the next level through a National Robotics Competition where students from all over India will participate in theme-wise solving of tasks. This climaxes in a final competition at the IITB Techfest in January 2013. Interested participants can register at http://www.e-yantra.org/register to participate in the challenge. There is a selection process following which upto 120 teams of a maximum number 4 members in each team will be selected to participate in the competition and put through the necessary training to take part in what promises to be an exciting formative experience.


IITB being an academic institution promotes or encourages the use of Open Source platform. Hence, the material developed in the project is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


Prof. Krithi Ramamritham, co coordinator of Project E-Yantra, IIT Bombay, said, “This proposal presents an integrated approach for incorporating robotics into secondary and engineering education with the objective of further engaging students through an exciting application of math, computers, and science. Projects are substantial exercises where the basic concepts are used to synthesise a complex application using several concepts to create a useful robotic artefact.”


The growth of embedded systems in India depends on our being able to produce high quality and innovative engineers with exposure to robotic technology from a young age. Unfortunately, hands-on learning-infrastructure has traditionally been expensive in India. Our goal is to create the next generation of embedded system engineers in India who are more practical in their outlook”, added professor Arya.


It is believed that due to the drastically lowering costs brought on by robotic manufacturing technology and the increasing cost of transportation, a lot of manufacturing sector jobs are going to migrate back to developed countries. It is therefore not a question of whether we can afford to get into robotics but whether we can afford to keep out of this most important race in the future.


Project E-Yantra welcomes faculty and students to actively participate in the program.


Please log onto www.e-yantra.org for registrations and details of the online test.