Yes, the robots are coming for our jobs, but, for whatever reason, they’ve decided to drag it out. Next up: the janitors.
MIT has developed a robot capable of disinfecting an area of 4,000 square feet in half an hour, and it could one day be used in schools and shopping centres.
The robot employs a type of UV-C light that kills viruses and other harmful microorganisms, and it can do so in huge areas very quickly with little assistance. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Ava Robotics and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) team up in April to develop the robot in an effort to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Able to completely eradicate coronavirus wherever the UV light touches, researchers believe that it stands as an effective option stores can utilise for disinfecting public stores and restaurants to limit further spread of the virus.
UV-C light emits a wavelength of ultraviolet light that can sterilise surfaces and liquids rapidly and inexpensively. The UV-C attacks the DNA of microorganisms directly, disrupting and killing the pathogen. For this reason, using a UV-C light is a more effective method of dealing with tough microorganisms, including airborne pathogens. Its current use consists of industrial applications, like wastewater processing and lab sterilisation, though UV-C is beginning to catch on in commercial markets and could prove a key player in combatting COVID-19 before long.
The robot employs a type of UV-C light that kills viruses and other harmful microorganisms, and it can do so in huge areas very quickly with little assistance.
The robot features a UV-C array built on top of a mobile robot previously built by Ava Robotics, a completely autonomous design that requires no human supervision. It is designed to either aid or replace chemical sterilisation, the main method used but one which can be expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous if the person disinfecting comes into contact with a pathogen.
“Food banks provide an essential service to our communities, so it is critical to help keep these operations running,” said Alyssa Pierson, CSAIL research scientist and technical lead on the UV-C lamp, commenting on the impact of this technology on local food supply and worker safety in a press release. “Here, there was a unique opportunity to provide additional disinfecting power to their current workflow and help reduce the risks of Covid-19 exposure.”
Food banks in the United States have seen an overwhelming increase in demand as a result of the pandemic, with some banks having to ration supplies. In only the last 5 weeks, 26 million have lost their jobs in the USA.
It is hoped that the reduction in manpower required and more effective sterilisation through robotics could free up labour for helping combat the pandemic’s side effects, while effectively protecting the workers from COVID-19.