INESC TEC’s Centre for Robotics in Industry and Intelligent Systems (CRIIS) developed a robotic system for disinfecting surfaces contaminated with COVID-19. Autonomous Robot for Disinfection at Hospitals (RADAR) was tested this Wednesday, July 29, at the S. Martinho Hospital, in Valongo.
The robot navigated autonomously through rooms and corridors of the hospital’s operating theatre, monitoring the presence of people in the surroundings. For safety reasons, the test was carried out with fluorescent lamps, but in real conditions, the robot will resort to UVC light.
“The robot follows a previously mapped circuit, moving to places defined in advance. Before turning on the UV lamps, which will disinfect the surroundings, the robot uses two sensors to check whether the room is empty, and beeps accordingly. The procedure is then initiated and carried out autonomously”, explained António Paulo Moreira, coordinator of the Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), and lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto (FEUP).
The robot has a graphical interface that helps users observing and changing the robot’s routes and position. The two sensors, one for movement detection, and another for heat detection, stop the disinfection process whenever people are detected. The quantity and power of UVC lamps are adjustable.
This system guarantees a disinfection of air and surfaces, with an efficiency of up to 99.9%, thus preventing and reducing the transmission of infectious diseases caused by microorganisms. It offers several advantages, compared to conventional disinfection processes, such as reducing the exposure of service providers to toxic and corrosive products and not leaving chemical residues. Moreover, this system does not need to interact with objects, and does not accelerate the corrosion process on metals.
The development of the project started in May, with funding of 29.000€ from the Foundation for Science and Technology – within the scope of the Research 4 Covid-19 financing line.
In addition to INESC TEC, FEUP, University Hospital Centre of São João (CHUSJ) and S. Martinho Hospital (Valongo) also participate in the project.
The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with FEUP.