Sharanya Munjal Chudgar - Society for Science Skip to content

Sharanya Munjal Chudgar

8th Grade, Challenger School – Shawnee
San Jose, CA

Sharanya built a trash-collecting robot with the goal of reducing trash pollution.

Solar-Tracking Litterminator


Project Background

Sharanya has participated in several local city cleanups, but was always saddened to see tons of trash still out there after working hard for hours. “I realized a robot would be able to collect double the amount and work for longer hours,” Sharanya says. Previously, she had also learned that solar panels that move to always face the sun collect more energy than stationary ones. “I really wanted to fix the pollution problem, but I also wanted to fix the inefficient solar panel problem,” she explains. So Sharanya decided to tackle both at once by designing a trash-collecting robot powered by a sun-tracking solar panel.

Tactics and Results

Sharanya’s robot has trash and recycling bins and moves with motorized wheels. The device’s front and back has object-detecting sensors to find trash. One end of the robot has a trash-collecting moveable arm with a pan to scoop objects and dump them into the trash or recycling bins. This pan also contains a metal-detecting sensor to sort metal recyclables into the appropriate place. A solar panel sits at the robot’s other end, extended into the air. Attached to it is a light-tracking device that follows the sun, prompting the solar panel to move accordingly. In tests, the sun-tracking solar panel generated more power than a stationary solar panel over six hours. The robot correctly identified an object every time it was presented, and it picked up items 80 percent of the time. It also correctly classified aluminum cans as recyclables 80 percent of the time. “The trash-collecting robot could benefit our entire world by reducing trash pollution,” Sharanya says.

2023 Thermo Fisher Junior Innovators Challenge Finalist: Sharanya Munjal Chudgar

Beyond the Project

Replacing the robot’s trash scooping pan with a robotics arm might help it pick up more items, Sharanya says. She would also like for the robot to sort plastic and glass by striking the items and detecting the difference in their frequencies.

Other interests

Sharanya enjoys coding, learning new computer languages and attending Hackathons. “I feel undaunted and push myself to create complex programs,” she says. She also likes water polo, chess and playing the Indian Carnatic flute. In the future, she would like to become a surgeon. “I’ve always been interested in the field of medicine because I am passionate about improving peoples’ lives,” she says.  

2023 Thermo Fisher Junior Innovators Challenge Finalist: Sharanya Munjal Chudgar