While hospitals are where sick patients go to get treatment, they are also the places where one is most likely to pick up infections. So ideally, a hospital has to be cleaned of any infectious pathogens.
A Danish company that makes disinfection robots has been seeing a huge demand for their UVD Robots. Currently, they are being shipped in high numbers to hospitals around the world to fight the coronavirus, particularly Italy and China.
These self-driving robots solve the problem by using UV light to kill germs in hospital rooms.
UV Light and Germs
UV or ultraviolet light has a higher frequency than visible light, as well as more energy than visible light waves.
UV light is already being used for disinfecting drinking water and sterilizing hospital equipment. It also has the power to destroy the molecular bonds of DNA in bacteria, viruses, mold or other microorganisms. Once the DNA is damaged, the germs will not be able to reproduce and spread the infection further.
While UV technology is efficient at disinfecting, it is not perfect. Dust can possibly block the light from reaching the microbes. If certain spots are not exposed long enough to UV light, the germs may not be killed. But more importantly, UV light can damage human cells as well. As a result, people must maintain their distance while UV lamps are being used.
The Present and Future
The original purpose of the UVD Robot was to prevent hospital-acquired infections. Data shows that 5 to 10% of people worldwide pick up a new infection while in the hospital.
It takes one robot 10 to 15 minutes to disinfect a room, and at around $80,000, these robots are affordable as medical equipment. The robots have to be taken around the area once so they can map the space, after which they are fully autonomous. They use lidar technology, similar to what is used in self-driving cars, to guide their movements.
During the day, these robots deliver medicine and check temperatures, and at night, they hunt for viruses! In the future, these robots could sanitize not just hospitals, but other public places such as airports and stations as well.
Sources: IEEE, Insider, ScientificAmerican, CNBC