In preventing the coronavirus outbreak, many nations are now deploying robots for spraying sterilizer, taking body temperature, and detect people not wearing masks.

Since early this year, the robot patrol team Avidbots had been deployed at Cincinnati International Airport (CVG) in Kentucky, USA. This Neo robot weights up to 500 kilograms and is equipped with an AI system, photo database, and various sensors to safely operate alongside humans.

Regarding this robot, Mr. Brian Cobb, Head of Innovations at CVG had shared: “Neo can sterilize surfaces with its two separate tanks in the back. Before us, Singapore also deployed a patrol team made of 20 Neo robots at the world’s largest airport, Changi”.

Neo robots are utilized at Cincinnati International Airport since early 2020. Photo: CVG

Beside Neo, many others sterilizing robots are operating more during the pandemic. In particular, the moment Wuhan was identified as a pandemic area, China had started to improve specific robots to support the nation’s prevention efforts. For example, its patrol robot Artris was equipped with an additional spraying system for sterilization of public spaces.

According to Professor Benjamin Tanner, Head of Microchem Lab in Austin, Texas (USA), another technology applied to robots is the indoor high-capacity ultraviolet disinfectant light (UVC). This method had long been used in various hospitals across America.

Tanner also shared that, each robot can UVC disinfect a room from around 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the light capacity. “The robot’s strength is that it can clean surfaces often missed by cleaners”, he said.

Furthermore, UVC technology are often regarded to be more effective than spraying sterilizers. This is even more important in the context of COVID-19, which major method of infection is thought to be via inhaling this airborne virus.

Some companies like UVD Robots (Denmark) had started manufacture of UVC robots since 2018, and is now providing the technology for over 50 countries. Hospitals in pandemic “hot spots” in China, had also started to use this disinfectant technology since February.

“Demands for UVC disinfectant robots had sky-rocketed since December 2019, and our order quantities had doubled, or even tripled, compared to estimations of early 2020,” Per Juul Nielsen, CEO of UVD Robots, shared.

Youibot – an UVC disinfectant robot at a hospital in Hubei, China. Photo: Youibot.

According to WSJ, UVC disinfectant robots can automatically move around hospitals, cleaning up rooms using minimal human supervision. Their popularity is constantly surging in hospitals, storages, offices… helping to clear spaces and surfaces regularly, in only hours after usage.

One important task of these robots is to sterilize rooms of COVID-19 patients before entrance of others. This, per Nielsens, is pretty similar to robots inside nuclear-affected areas and other hazard spaces.

And UVD Robots is not the only player, as various other startups are also investing in technology research, providing small orders from tens to hundreds of robots. While growth in the disinfectant robot industry remains unclear, overbuying these robots while lacking necessary maintenance may lead to situations similar to thousands of breathers broken in the USA, as demands will sharply drop after the pandemic.

Jenni Lee, an analyst expert of GGV Capital had mentioned COVID-19’s role in highlighting the importance of robots and automation, as after the pandemic, multiple companies in China had regulated and introduced multi-purpose automatic robots, which can patrol offices, deliver goods, and disinfect using UVC lights, or even detect people sporting fevers.

Crurz robots can detect sick people and those not wearing masks. Photo: UBTech

UBTech Robotics had also developed two robots named Crurz and Aimbot, both of which integrate face identification and body temperature measuring technologies. These robots had been deployed in some hospitals in Shenzhen, China, in order to remind citizens to wear masks and notify people with fevers. In more advanced functions, Crurz can play as an assistant, which enables remote connections between doctors and patients for intial check-ups.

Lee had identified the highest hurdle of disinfectant robot technology to be its overwhelming investment in comparison with traditional methods, while meticulous tasks like sterilization of doorbells and elevator buttons still require human. However, she hoped that companies will continue to improve their technology to create smaller and smarter robots.

It is important to note that are still many doubts regarding the actual effectiveness of disinfectant robots. “Robot manufacturers often ignore efficiency tests of their UVC light systems, while users hardly care about the matter,” Professor Tanner explained. “Some companies even used preexisting researches to advertise their robots’ ability to not only disinfect, but also reduce infection rates in hospitals.”

Source VnExpress (from WSJ)

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