Covid-19: Development of A Robotic Disinfection System for Covid-19
The outbreak of COVID‑19 has taken its toll on Canada and around the world, impacting and threatening our life. To curtail the spread, all levels of government have announced several measures such as social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing. One main route of viral transmission is through touching contaminated objects and surface areas because COVID‑19 pathogens can remain infectious for extended periods of time from hours to days. For this reason, there is an imminent demand to find effective disinfection methods for public settings including hospitals and long-term care facilities. However, existing non-contact disinfection methods which are either chemical-based or UV light-based, are both hazardous to humans. To resolve this issue, the objective of the proposed research is to develop a non-contact robotic disinfection method that is safe to the operator. Specifically, two disinfection methods that are much less harmful to humans will be investigated: 1) blue light and 2) heated air. Two corresponding disinfection devices with computer control will be developed, tested and compared. The robotic system will consist of a moving platform, a robot, and a disinfection device. The goal is to have a quick set up at a target location for operation within 5-10 minutes. By using a robot to reduce the need for humans to be directly involved in non-contact disinfection processes we will simultaneously reduce health risks to workers who are currently exposed to hazardous environments and provide an efficient means of disinfecting and sanitizing public settings. This project will be conducted in collaboration with a leading Canadian robotics company (Engineering Services Inc.- ESI) and a medical professional with expertise in Internal Medicine and Toxicology. Developed systems will continue to be widely applicable for the disinfection of public spaces beyond the immediate crisis of the COVID – 19 global pandemic. The outcome of the project will therefore ensure public safety and wellbeing in this arduous time and for many years to come with long-lasting and significant impact in reducing risks for the spread of not only COVID – 19, but also other bacterial and viral contaminants in future.