As everyone around the world tries to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are struggling to keep themselves healthy and the rest of us (hopefully) continue to maintain our distance. It’s a good time to remember the three Ds of robotics—dirty, dull, and dangerous. Sales of medical robots had already increased by 50% in 2018, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). But the coronavirus outbreak highlights some key use cases for mobile robotics in particular as robotic systems move in to disinfect facilities, provide surveillance, material handling, and help with deliveries.
“By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, robots will be mainstreamed across a range of applications and markets.”
One of the more popular uses of robotics has been deploying autonomous mobile systems to disinfect facilities. These ultraviolet disinfection (UVD) robots use UV light to kill harmful microorganisms and have been in high demand since the coronavirus outbreak. “Automating disinfection is a key part of maintaining health and safety and could be one of the major bright spots in the response to COVID-19,” Whitton said.
Denmark-based UVD Robots is scaling up deployments of its robots to disinfect hospitals; U.S.-based GermFalcon is offering a similar UV disinfection solution for aircraft; and China’s TMiRob has been deploying disinfection robots in Wuhan, China. Chinese hospitals have ordered more than 2,000 UVD robots from Blue Ocean Robotics, according to the IFR, which, along with IEEE, awarded Blue Ocean’s UVD Robots subsidiary the IERA Award in 2019. The robots started to destroy viruses in Wuhan, where the global pandemic began, and now operate in more than 40 countries in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
“We are now helping solve one of the biggest problems of our time, preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria with a robot that saves lives,” said Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics. “The immediate demand has increased a lot with the outbreak of COVID-19. Existing customers buy many more units than before, and many new customers are ordering the UVD robots to fight coronavirus and other harmful microorganisms.”
“In a severe crisis like this where the world health is threatened, our innovative technology really proves its worth,” added Per Juul Nielsen, CEO of UVD Robots.
The robot moves autonomously around patient rooms and operating theatres, covering all critical surfaces with the right amount of UV-C light to kill specific viruses and bacteria. In a typical patient room, 99.99 % of all viruses and bacteria are killed within 10 minutes. For safety reasons, the robot works on its own and automatically disengages the UV-C light if someone enters the room, Risager noted. Watch the robot in action.
“Robots have a great potential of supporting us in the current severe corona pandemic,” said Dr. Susanne Bieller, general secretary of the IFR. “They can support us in healthcare environments, but also in the development, testing and production of medicine, vaccines and other medical devices and auxiliaries.”
source: healthcare packaging