Goafest 2019: Tech prodigy Harshwardhansinh Zala on crafting ‘meaningful technology’
The 16-year-old Founder & CEO of Aerobotics 7 talks about his inspirations, challenges and his projects
Harshwardhansinh Zala, Founder & CEO, Aerobotics 7 took the stage at Goafest 2019 to talk about his journey in the world of robotics and technology.
Having set off on the technological path at the mere age of 9, this child prodigy was enamoured by electronics and constantly tinkered with gadgets and gizmos. He got his first idea while staring at the ceiling fan. “I was hoping for a miracle to turn the fan on as I was way too lazy to get up and do it myself.” Working on this basic insight, he started researching and gathering information on existing technology that could help him achieve this goal. His first breakthrough, at the age of 10, was transforming his television remote into a device that could control the lights and fans in his home.
“There was no stopping me after that. I completed 42 projects, 8 robots and 5 drones by the time I was 12 years old.” Talking about his creations, Harshwardhansinh details how the technology he curated for the world was by and large for domestic purposes. His driving urge, however, was to create technological aids that would help generate a notable change in the society.
The pivotal moment came when he watched a YouTube video of Indian Army soldiers tracking landmines. “They found some of the landmines, however one of them exploded. The landmine was plastic as opposed to traditional metal ones, which is why the tracker couldn’t locate it,” he recounted. Watching the soldiers die helplessly churned
Harshwardhansinh to set off on his new endeavour. He invented the first-of-its-kind ‘plastic’ landmine detector prototype while in class 8 after having been turned away by several companies telling him how he should continue to be a kid and how there are far more accomplished scientists working across the world to crack this technology.
Coming from a quintessential middle class Indian family, the boy took it upon himself to learn all about the sectors he hoped to crack. “I started my company and began researching all sorts of topics. From electronics to advanced robotics, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and internet of things and over 37 programming languages. I learned all of this by myself through the internet and books. I still don’t have any mentors in my life.”
He began showcasing his prototype to government officials and army officers in addition to demonstrating internationally. “We are now on our 6th prototype which can not only detect a landmine but diffuse it as well, thus reducing human casualties.” He currently engages with multiple countries and their armed forces to incorporate real-time feedback and constantly improve his prototype, and has signed partnerships with seven nations so far.
Signing off on an inspirational note, the 16-year-old described how despite discouragements he managed to keep going in a passionate effort to realise his dream project. “If I can do it, then you can do it. Nothing is impossible in the world if you are truly passionate about it.”
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