Healthcare

UV robots tackle coronavirus in hospitals

A robot with blue ultraviolet lamps patrols a hospital ward
The self-driving machines patrol the wards when they are unoccupied and disinfect the rooms, medical equipment and furniture using powerful UV-C light to kill bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms.

A SQUAD of robots packed with ultra-violet lighting has joined the fight against the coronavirus in hospitals. 

The self-driving machines patrol the wards when they are unoccupied and disinfect the rooms, medical equipment and furniture using powerful UV-C light to kill bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms.

The manufacturer, Danish firm UVD Robots, describes the technology as ‘a new and powerful weapon against the spread of the coronavirus’.

Chinese hospitals have become among the first to deploy the automatons.

Units were shipped this week to the worst-hit parts of the country and in the next month, many more will be air-freighted to healthcare facilities fighting the coronavirus.

With ultraviolet light, the Danish robot can disinfect and kill viruses and bacteria autonomously, effectively limiting the spread of coronaviruses without exposing hospital staff to the risk of infection.

Hospital equipment supplier Sunay Healthcare Supply will deliver the robots to its healthcare customers in all Chinese provinces. 

‘With this agreement, more than 2,000 hospitals will now have the opportunity to ensure effective disinfection, protecting both their patients and staff,’ Su Yan, CEO of Sunay Healthcare Supply told Lux.

Now sold in more than 40 countries, UVD Robots is already delivering its self-driving disinfection robots to hospitals in other parts of Asia in addition to healthcare markets in Europe and the United States. 

The company says the invention increases the safety of both staff, patients and their relatives by reducing the risk of contact with bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms. 

Claus Risager, CEO of parent company Blue Ocean Robotics and chairman of the board of UVD Robots, said: ‘We’re now helping solve one of the biggest problems of our time, preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses with a robot that saves lives in hospitals every day.’

The concentrated UV-C light emitted by the robots as they drive has a germicidal effect that removes virtually all airborne viruses and bacteria on the surfaces of a room. Results, that led to the UVD robot winning the robotics industry’s ‘Oscar’ – IERA Award in 2019.

Before entering into the agreement with UVD Robots, Sunay Healthcare Supply did its due diligence and screened the market for the best technologies to fight the coronavirus.

‘We found the UVD robot to be superior compared to other technologies and are pleased to – in a very short amount of time – enter into a reseller agreement with exclusive rights to supply the UVD robots in China,’ says Su Yan, emphasising how both parties have worked intensively to get deliveries of robots to the Chinese hospitals.

However, Mark Cunningham, CEO of ultraviolet air purification lighting company Air-Lume, cautioned against what he says is ‘carpet-bombing’ of surfaces with UV-C light.

‘UV-C is a useful tool but has to be handled with great caution as the risk to users is significant if mishandled’.

Additionally, the robots can only disinfect surfaces in the line of sight. ‘Light doesn’t go under tables or around corners,’ he said. ‘This UV light could damage surfaces that will ultimately harbour more bacteria’.