Two students, a NASA employee and an IITian collaborated to design the COVID-19 Auto Safety Kit for automobiles.

4 people sitting inside an aut which has installed the COVID protection kitBy arrangement
news Innovation Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 13:04

Ever since the pandemic began people are worried about heading out. Be it for work or buying essentials, people are avoiding public transport. However, two students from Hyderabad decided to find a solution to this issue — a COVID-19 Auto Safety Kit, a safety shield to make automobiles safer for commuters and the drivers. After all, it was not only about passenger safety, but also about the livelihood of all those who worked in the public transport industry.

Gurudeep M and Sanju Vardhan, two second-year engineering students of Electronics and Communications Engineering in Methodist College in Hyderabad had met Pooja Tak when they visited National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2019. They had discussed work, projects and decided to collaborate for future projects. Later, Pooja, who is now a NASA Space Apps Lead, introduced the Hyderabad students to Sachin Kumar, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay graduate.

In March this year, when the pandemic began, Gurudeep, Sanju and Pooja launched their startup called Pravishaa Infotech and developed the COVID-19 Auto Safety Kit. Sachin played a crucial role in deciding the fabric and the calibration of the contents to be used in it. After weeks of research, trial and testing, they developed a safety kit. 

They used polymethylene and polyamide to make a sheet that could be used to separate the passengers from each other and also from the driver. Explaining the product, M Gurudeep said, “The product’s safety is equivalent to an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Class 1 personal protection equipment and is 99.99% effective as a barrier. The sheet used in the product is transparent and hence does not block the view. The sheet can be sanitised using bleach or any other strong sanitiser without affecting the quality of the product. It is durable and will last for around a year and can be sanitised 4,500 times and can also be recycled.”

The team said the highlight of the product is that it can be installed and removed with less effort. When asked how the product is different from the plastic sheets used by auto drivers, Gurudeep explained, “The plastic sheets are not durable and do not help keep the surface virus-free. Our product uses a special chemical, which acts as a disinfectant. It is also long-lasting and durable. Sanitisers and strong disinfectants can be used on our safety shield without affecting the product.”

According to the team, the product has been well-received. “We have been getting orders from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi. We have installed the safety guard in around 1 lakh autos and e-rickshaws and 3,500 cabs so far. We have received the certificate for compliance and have also applied for a patent, which is under process. The vehicles on which this product is installed also have a logo that says the automobile is ‘COVID protected’,” said Pooja Tak. 

The product installed in an auto-rickshaw costs Rs 800 and for cabs, it costs Rs 1,600. The Maharashtra Road Transport Office (RTO) has approved the product and the team claims they have received a call from the NITI Ayog too.

READ: Watch: Bundles of cash, almost Rs 1 crore bribe seized from Telangana tehsildar

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