Researchers build cleaning robot that kills bacteria with UV rays

Researchers have built a super-cleaner robot that can work 24-hour shifts and kill bacteria using ultraviolet rays – allowing humans to stay away from dirty areas. Footage shows the futuristic machine dubbed ‘UVC Moving Cobot’ using its light-emitting arms to scan a cafe for bacteria in Bangkok, Thailand on April 1. The robot works alone as it has a virtual mapping system controlled remotely through a 5G signal, preventing human contact with unsanitised areas. It can be programmed to carry out 24-hour shifts – an impossible feat for even the most hard-working human cleaner or janitor. Researchers at the Mahidol University believe the robot can detect and kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria and viruses through its UVC light radiation – potentially revolutionising the cleaning industry. Dr Eakkachai Warinsiriruk from the Mahidol University said the robot has four components that make it adaptable to different environments. He said: ‘UVC Moving CoBot has four components, the generator of the UV rays, the arms, the automatic guided vehicle and the machine’s vision to scan the surface of objects. The generators are set up on each arm of the robot.’ University researchers designed the robot to be able to move on its own without the need for constant supervision by operators. It begins by scanning the surfaces in homes or businesses and blasting them with santitising UV light rays. The type of ultraviolet ray used by the robot, UVC, has a wavelength range of 200 to 280 nanometres which researchers say can kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces. Arakin Rakchittapoke from the AIS robotics Lab, one of the partner groups involved, said the machine will help the trade and tourism industry to adapt to sanitation guidelines introduced following the Covid-19 pandemic. He said: ‘We are aiming to elevate digital infrastructure during the pandemic through this project. It will apply 5G, AI, Cloud and Robotics to develop robots for industry and medical purposes. ‘The virtual mapping technology makes it easier to operate because it can be remotely controlled and set up to work for 24 hours.’ The researchers are also developing a consumer-friendly prototype that households and small businesses will be able to afford.