Robots Tasked to Help Control Coronavirus

The above video was uploaded to YouTube in October of 2016 by Blue Ocean Robotics

(See my other Robot related posts) – I came across the article “Autonomous Robots Are Helping Kill Coronavirus in Hospitals” a few days ago. It was published on the IEEE Spectrum website. Concern runs high with many that robots will take their jobs. The Coronavirus outbreak has emphasized the need to prevent the spread of the virus. In hospitals, keeping surfaces disinfected is incredibly important. This can take up manpower and time as well as exposing more people to the virus. Robots have stepped in to fill this need.

Some of these come from the Danish company UVD Robots.Their robots can disinfect patient rooms, operating theaters, and hallways. The robots carry an array of powerful short-wavelength ultraviolet-C (UVC) lights. They emit enough energy to destroy microorganisms exposed to them.

Exposing a surface to the UV light for a couple of minutes will disinfect it. Since the UV light can cause damage to human skin and eyes, they must avoid exposure. A room exposed to the UV light for about 15 minutes will disinfect it. This process kills 99.99% of the germs. The robots are better at this tedious process.

The robots consist of a mobile base with an array of UV lights mounted on top. The light array emits 20 joules per square meter per second of 254-nanometer light. Operators use a computer to teach the robot the route they should follow. The on-board Lidar sensors map the route. The route is then edited with detailed operational instructions. After that, the robots operate autonomously.

Robots leave their charging station to follow their programmed route. They will even use elevators if necessary before returning to their charging station. While traveling their route, onboard sensors detect the presence of people. The lights are shut down until the area is clear. The robots cost between US $80,000 and $90,000 each.

UVD spent years developing these robots and began sales in 2018. The robots are already in use in Chinese hospitals.

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