; Date: March 27, 2020
The idea behind this robot is very simple - take a platform designed for industrial robotic applications, and attach a frame holding ultraviolet fluorescent bulbs. UV-C bulbs are widely used in medical situations to disinfect all kinds of things. Therefore a suitable robot could be used to disinfect any sort of space from any unknown pathogen.
The Modulab team used a robot they'd already developed for smart warehouses, and bolted on a simple frame to carry these UV-C lights. The claims are:
- The robot can avoid fixed or mobile obstacles
- It can operate in spaces where it has never been
- It can be operated remotely
- The UV-C lights can destroy any bacteria, virus or pathogen because of how ultraviolet light acts on DNA and RNA
"We believe that the technology will provide the most answers and solutions to the global situation that, a few months ago, we could not imagine. Precisely the versatility of technology has allowed us in such a short time to implement a solution designed and created for a completely different project, of course adapted to the stringent requirements of the current context. At this moment we have a prototype tested and functional. If there is demand and interested investors, we are ready to produce it ”, says Paul Popescu , Modulab founder.
One can imagine robots like this being useful in all kinds of spaces. For example people around the world are being told to stay home because public spaces are unsafe because of the risk of COVID-19 infections. Robots like this could be deployed to all such places to bring disinfection to supermarkets, churches, schools, businesses, etc. If all such spaces were to be disinfected, wouldn't we be able to travel more freely around our cities?
Modulab's TUG robot platform is similar to industrial robots used by Amazon to automate their warehouse operations. Amazon's robots lift whole shelves of products, carrying the shelves from the bowels of the warehouse to locations where humans put packages in boxes for shipping. One can imagine Amazon rigging some of their warehouse robots in a similar way to disinfect their own operations. See: Amazon's amazing warehouse robots automate assembling your purchases for shipping
The idea has a strong scientific rationale, based on research into using ultraviolet to disinfect areas of the COVID-19 virus:
Kowalski, Wladyslaw. (2020). 2020 COVID-19 Coronavirus Ultraviolet Susceptibility. 10.13140/RG.2.2.22803.22566. This report addresses a topic of high current interest - the ultraviolet susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The results of a literature review are presented and summarized to provide a basis for estimating the ultraviolet susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2, and relevant supplemental information is provided on COVID-19 based on the latest published reports. A discussion on the feasibility of using the new technology of Focused Multivector Ultraviolet light as a disinfection strategy is included.
This project is not the first implementation of this idea. A similar robot was developed in Denmark, according to The first autonomous robot to fight coronavirus was brought to "Matei Balș" and other news reports.
We'll note that elsewhere in today's news are questions about COVID-19 infection at Amazon's warehouses. Clearly Amazon's facilities has some degree of COVID-19 infections, so there is a legitimate need for Amazon - and other online sellers - to increase cleanliness to avoid spreading infections by shipping packages.
- The first prototype of autonomous disinfection robot in Romania, developed by Modulab
- Bucharest research lab develops autonomous disinfection robot prototype