Kiran Penumacha, Founder & CEO, Grene Robotics

Kiran founded Grene Robotics with the single-minded objective of building Autonomous technologies that make humans more efficient. He has nurtured Grene Robotics to become a globally admired company that takes great pride in innovation and its people. Before founding Grene Robotics, Kiran has been widely recognized for his contribution to the field of autonomous technologies. He holds patents for Automated Presence Status, Presence Status-Based Communication Filtration, and Authentic-based Combination of Inputs.

 

Can you please elaborate on how the Pandemic impacted the Healthcare Industry? How did Grene Robotics cope with this impact?

Healthcare systems across the globe were not designed to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. This brought an unpredictable, large-scale health challenge that required urgent mobilization of resources, affecting the whole population. However, for the industry it enhanced the need for a responsive healthcare system that can enable:

  • Zero-touch patient journey
  • Online scheduling of appointments
  • Remote healthcare facilities
  • Virtual consultations
  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Insurance cover for remote healthcare providers 

We have designed and developed solutions that enable healthcare to reach its beneficiaries and not the other way around. We are currently implementing such a solution for a large-scale public sector enterprise with 50 lakh beneficiaries. Companies that offer healthcare benefits for their employees should use this mechanism because the moment healthcare becomes virtual, so does the healthcare plan. 

Thanks to the pandemic, every industry including healthcare have realized the importance of digitalization and automation. It is especially important for the healthcare sector in India, where healthcare infrastructure is poor and a large part of the population still does not have easy access to reliable healthcare facilities. Here, technology can make a big difference by bringing virtual access to doctors and healthcare professionals to even the most remote places. 

What are the latest innovations in your field that have helped grow your service/business?

Three innovations that have enabled significant change in our line of business are: 

  • The smartphone and its sensory capability
  • Wearable healthcare tech
  • Cloud-based AI 

How can healthcare providers, both digital and real-life sources, be more efficient?

Our healthcare infrastructure needs to go digital and become a unified platform where activities from one department to another happen seamlessly without much human intervention. Today most of our healthcare systems are outdated.  There is a lack of sufficient physical infrastructure, and simple things like scheduling appointments and virtual patient health databases are missing. These age-old traditions need to change. 

The infrastructure needs to be upgraded. With new generation platforms like GreneOS, this transformation will be faster and smoother.

Tell us the founding story of Grene Robotics. What are the significant challenges you faced in the beginning and how did you overcome those challenges?

My tryst with autonomous solutions started when I was at Carnegie Mellon University where I worked on building autonomous systems for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After that experience, I was left thinking about how autonomous solutions can be made available for various industries. 

When I entered the enterprise workforce with my first job at Pitney Bowes, I got firsthand experience of how broken and inefficient today’s enterprise and government operations were. I realized from my experience at CMU that to bring robots into the workforce we will need a new breed of systems powered by autonomy. This inspired me to start Grene Robotics and build a new generation platform (today called GreneOS) on which humans and machines can co-exist.

Another thing that has always fascinated me is nature’s mechanism of autonomous engineering. It’s just amazing how nature has a solution for every challenge and builds sustainable and regenerative designs. So taking inspiration from nature’s intrinsic design mechanism I decided to build autonomous solutions and founded Grene Robotics in 2008.

One of the most challenging tasks was to convince investors to invest in R&D. The usual thought is that R&D companies use the investor money to fail but fail fast. The fact is that without sufficient R&D you are probably not doing any significant disruption. If I would have said that everyone will work from home 10 years back, I would have been laughed at. But then we experimented and went virtual much before the pandemic and have been successful because of our research. 

What are the products/services offered at Grene Robotics today that make it unique?

Grene Robotics offers Robots as a service. We design, develop and deploy autonomous solutions for Enterprises, Defense, and Government bodies. Our solutions are built on a proprietary AI platform backed by ML algorithms and cognitive computing technologies that can self-learn, self-correct, and continuously evolve enabling human beings to do more meaningful work while the machines do the everyday mundane jobs.

Under the Enterprise section, we currently cater to the telecom and hospitality industries where we offer a reduction of operational expenses by 30% by unifying People, processes, and machines on a single platform and delivering artificially intelligent decision making. 

Our Defense solution called DefOS is a first-of-its-kind autonomous defense operating system that will redefine the way militaries go into war or successfully avoid one from happening by early threat detection. We are the first  Indian company to develop C5ISRT capability that can deliver Autonomous Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Collaboration, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and targeting (C5ISRT) solutions to the armed forces, taking Indian defense capabilities at par with the best in the world. 

For Responsive Cities, we have built CityOS that brings together all the disparate human and infrastructure assets of a city together, controlled by an autonomous system delivering to the needs, wants, and desires of each citizen. In the past we enabled a nationwide emergency response system – EMRI 108 – that reduced the emergency response time of ambulances from allocation and reach the time to the incident by 70%.  

We can say that we are at the cusp of the 5th industrial revolution bridging the gap between human and machine interoperability, re-engaging human intelligence to the next level. At Grene Robotics, we deliver robotics as a solution for a self-reliant, advanced, integrated future.

Tell us about the team at Grene Robotics that has helped you build the organization that it is today. 

We are a team of highly driven individuals who are collectively working towards building autonomous solutions for a better tomorrow. Our leadership team is composed of prominent experts and technologists from various industries who bring decades of experience and subject matter expertise to the organization. 

Also, we are a remote working company and had started this practice much before the pandemic forced people to adopt this lifestyle. Today, the Grene team collaborates across geographies to deliver autonomous solutions.

How do you ensure quick response to medical emergencies?

We believe in the saying that a nation’s health is a nation’s wealth. In the past, with GreneOS, we enabled India’s first nationwide emergency response system to reduce their response time from 7 minutes to 20 seconds. 

Apart from this, as mentioned above we have also designed and developed a responsive healthcare solution for a large govt. an organization that provides a 360-degree zero-touch customer journey from scheduling appointments to online consultations and ensuring remote healthcare facilities. 

What are some of the lessons you learned throughout your journey that have helped you grow and excel?

One thing that I have learned in my entrepreneurial journey is that pain builds character. It’s only through great effort that something worthwhile emerges. 

Tell us your journey so far as an entrepreneur. How did you tackle obstacles that came in your way?

I have taken failures in my stride. In fact, as an organization, we encourage failures because we believe that every failure is a learning experience.

Could you throw some light on the milestones you have achieved during your journey as an entrepreneur?

At Purdue University, I built my first hacking program to run an ICQ chat application on the protected campus network. This went viral in adoption across the campus. As an indirect reward, the campus computing center recruited me as a lab assistant.

Then I built the world’s highest-altitude research center at 17,664 sq ft for DRDO in J&K which has been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. I have patents for Automated Presence Status, Presence Status-Based Communication Filtration, and Authentic-based Combination of Inputs.

My second venture, SA Habitat, was in the real estate sector where I built the world’s most energy-efficient smart housing community that also housed India’s first smart microgrid. I also co-founded the energy efficiency company, Valence Energy, which was later acquired by US-based Serious Materials, which is now called Serious Energy.

Tell us a little bit about your education and life as a student. What lessons did you learn before your days in the industry that has made you the leader you are today?

I studied computer engineering at Manipal Academy of higher education. From there I went to Purdue University where I majored in computer science and mathematics. I did my master’s in Bioinformatics, specializing in Computational Biology from Carnegie Mellon University. My real lessons were through the people I met in these various institutions. A mix of India in Manipal, a mix of Central America at Purdue, and a mix of the world at CMU. 

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and why?

I am a fan of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk because both have been visionaries and believe in connecting the dots forward rather than backward.

Could you tell us more about the upcoming projects and goals you are currently working on?

Recently we announced that Grene Robotics has designed and developed India’s first 100% indigenous Unified, Distributed and wide-area Autonomous Drone Defence Dome called Indrajaal or AD3.  Indrajaal will protect a large area of 1000-2000 sq. km per system against threats such as UAVs, Incoming Weapons, Loitering Munitions, Low-RCS targets autonomously. Similarly, we are developing solutions in the healthcare, hospitality, and forest conservation sectors.

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