Through our time during the Pandemic, all of us learned a lot about how easy it is to spread a virus. My teammate and I wanted to find a way in which we reduce the chances of this happening as much as possible, with as little reliance on people themselves. Not only because they themselves could be carrying the virus, which is still a very important element, but also because they could very easily get the virus while cleaning or working in such environments. To deal with this problem well, we decided to work on making the process of cleaning the environment as autonomous as possible.
What it does
The Autonomous UV Sterilization Robot autonomously travels within a room, reading its way through QR Codes placed by the user, informing about where to go. On it, are UV tube lights, that through a relay are turned on. There is a camera on board that is used to not only read the QR code's output but is also used to run a Computer Vision algorithm that searches for humans. If a human is spotted, the UV tube lights are turned off and the machine stops to ensure that no humans are harmed.
How we built it
We used a pre-welded frame. On the frame, we attached a UV tube light, soldered on 4 motors, and made space for the other electricals on the top. The brain of it all is the Raspberry Pi. On the pi, we wrote a program in Python, making use of the OpenCV library for Computer Vision and the Raspberry Pi library to handle the motors and the instructions. Together, through the camera, we get the input of the QR code with the directions. The Pi then processes this input and sends the commands based on a logic we wrote to make it move in the desired direction. This is done to avoid obstacles and stay within the path defined by the user through the QR code.
Challenges we ran into
We had to learn a lot of the hardware and the Raspberry Pi's working. Having not worked with it besides some very basic things, we had to learn it practically from scratch to implement something fairly complex. Along with this, the motor drivers were new to us too. Getting them to work and effectively get the robot moving was a challenge.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to get the code working, and handle a project we did not think we could do within 24 hours. From soldering the motors to testing and writing a lot of the code from scratch, we gave it our best shot.
What we learned
We learned a lot about Computer Vision, interacting with a Raspberry Pi, Running algorithms in conjecture with one another, and a lot about hardware. From soldering on and taking off a lot of motors to find the right ones with the right torque, to ensuring that the tubes were in the right place and were safe, along with acrylic for the electricals to avoid any short-circuiting.
What's next for Autonomous UV Sterilization Robot
We plan to pitch this idea to schools and offices/workplaces. During the time the places are empty, leaving the bot inside along will take care of ensuring that the risk of not only Coronavirus but a lot of other viruses, bacteria and diseases is mitigated.