What are disinfection robots? How are they useful?
Are disinfection robots useful?
Technological advancements have been the symbol of the 21st century. We live in an age where driverless cars aren’t a distant dream. Even working robots have been invented & commercially used. With every passing year, the advancements in technology have been fascinating. Technology has helped humans to live better & safer. When comparing the Spanish flu pandemic & COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that technological advancements in healthcare were the primary reason for a lesser death count.
Yet a question arises, what would have been the scenario if robots were employed to do the menial tasks which humans don’t prefer or the work where human lives are at risk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the WHO recommended the social distancing norms, undoubtedly, the mass implementation of disinfection robots would have helped. In this article, we will throw light on disinfection robots, their uses & what role they play in the future of humankind. So, let’s begin without any further ado.
What are disinfection robots?
Disinfection robots are specialized robots that perform disinfection tasks (both surface & air). The development of disinfection robots has been prominent in the healthcare sector to aid the automation of disinfection tasks and make it non-contact & low-risk operations. Most disinfection robots use UV (ultra-violet) radiation for disinfection instead of chemical disinfectants. Many research publications have backed the efficiency & effectiveness of UV radiation (UV-C rays) in killing pathogens. This method of disinfection provides an additional advantage of contact-less disinfection.
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Disinfection robots should be operated in an empty room as the UV light it emits can cause permanent eye damage to humans. To avoid hazards, safety is ensured in the room disinfected by the disinfection robot with the provision of alarms when a person tries to enter the room and auto-shutoff when motion is detected in the room. Most disinfection robots use a xenon bulb that pulses for a few minutes disinfecting its surroundings. The UV-C rays produced by the disinfection robots cannot penetrate through windows or walls.
- Disinfection robots comprise two types, namely, commercial & personal robots.
- The rate of disinfection by the disinfection robots is determined by the intensity of UV-C radiation. The higher the intensity of UV-C rays, the lower the time taken for disinfection.
- IRIS 3200 m is one of the most powerful disinfection robots in the world.
Advantages of disinfection robots
- Disinfection robots can be developed as highly automated machines. If required, they can also be controlled manually.
- They help in the reduction of risk of infection and reduce the exposure to pathogens. Thus, disinfection robots are much safer to use.
- Disinfection robots can disinfect hard-to-reach places with ease.
- They perform the disinfection task much faster in less time without affecting the efficiency.
- Disinfection robots help in the reduction of the workforce for disinfection. Disinfection robots also help in coping with labor shortages.
- They help in the enhancement of the efficiency of disinfection by reducing human errors & constant improvement with the help of AI (artificial intelligence) & ML (machine learning).
- Disinfection robots provide better information & data management related to disinfection.
Are disinfection robots used in the current settings?
In the current settings, most of these disinfection robots are capable of assisting with manual disinfection. But, a Danish company, UVD robots, has been an aggressor in the implementation of the disinfection robots. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they successfully delivered disinfection robots to two Slovenian hospitals to ease the disinfection of their patient rooms. Disinfection robots have also been used in the US. For example, at the Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, the patient rooms are disinfected with the help of disinfection robots.
Surface disinfection robots are widely used in healthcare institutions, airports, hotels, restaurants, and malls. They spray the disinfectants and wipe the surface. The operation can be completely automated or even manually operated. Moreover, there are many other types of disinfection robots like the pool disinfection robots, street disinfection robots, etc.
The disinfection robots are remotely operated by the healthcare staff without the need for their physical presence in the patient rooms. In many nations, disinfection robots are widely researched and implemented on a trial basis before full-scale implementation. Moreover, disinfection robots are implemented or are about to be implemented in many nations like the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, Luxembourg, Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, and many other nations.
Why are disinfection robots necessary in the future?
The future of disinfection robots is bright. It is indicated by the rapid growth of its market size. In 2020, Emergent Research estimated that the global market size of robots used for disinfection, sanitation, and cleaning was 6.9 billion US dollars. According to the research, the growth rate of the global market size is 23.0% per year from 2020 up to 2028. So this indicates a five-fold growth in the market size of disinfection robots in just eight years! Other research studies have also predicted the growth rate to be in the range of 10% to 30%.
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It was the COVID-19 pandemic that created a market for disinfection robots. Now, people want disinfection to be employed more frequently & safely. Earlier, disinfection was considered a weekly or even a monthly activity. It was considered a menial job. From a once in a while menial activity, disinfection rose to become a high-risk priority task. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were instances where disinfection & sanitation workers rejected the work. In such cases, disinfection became the responsibility of the house owner themselves. Won’t it be better if one could employ a trustworthy disinfection robot?
The invention of disinfection robots was to ease disinfection in healthcare institutions. Healthcare institutions are a hub of a range of pathogens. Sanitation & disinfection workers are at the highest risk of infection. So, disinfection robots would perform the high-risk disinfection task at minimal risk in less time. For this, there has been a lot of research & investment in robotics for the healthcare sector to reduce the chances of infection & ensure that the clinical settings are safe & sound.
Innovations in the medical field have helped in saving numerous lives. One such much-needed innovation is the disinfection robots which help in reducing the spread of diseases due to inefficient disinfection. Disinfection robots use a non-contact process of UV-C radiation to destroy pathogens. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of disinfection robots has been clearly established. It is symbolized by the five-fold growth estimated in the global market size of disinfection robots in just eight years.
The efficiency & effectiveness of disinfection robots without comprising safety has already been proved by various research studies. Further advancements in the technology of disinfection robots will consolidate their advantages and minimize any risks & disadvantages they currently have. It shall ensure their mass implementation in the future.