During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been observed that health care workers saw a high infection rate. A majority of these workers are sanitization experts whose job was to disinfect the hospital beds, floors, utensils, etc. During these times, it is vital for those who have the power to help us snap out of this crisis to remain safe. This project is our plan to protect the lives of thousands of health care workers, their families, and the communities they reside in or come in contact with.
What it does
This COVID Bot is an autonomous obstacle avoidance robot that sanitizes the hospital floors and the lower part of the walls through the use of germicidal UV light and cleans the floor surface with a mini mop.
How We built it
This sanitization bot uses Arduino Uno to fulfill its autonomous feature. It is fitted with ultrasonic sensors to detect the obstacles in front of it and motor drivers to control the speed of the rear wheels of the bot separately. By controlling this speed, we can rotate the bot by 180 degrees when it detects an obstacle a quarter meter in front of it. UV Germicidal strips are fitted at the edges as well as below the chassis to sanitize the surroundings. The bot is designed to stop after every 1 meter for a short pause to ensure efficient sanitization. Behind the bot, a small rag may be attached to clean the surface. The simplistic design of the bot makes it cheap for mass production. Using the Arduino Uno, we built an obstacle avoidance robot using ultrasonic sensors and motor drivers alongside a few DC Motors.
Challenges We ran into
Abhijeet is in Madison while I'm in Mumbai. It was challenging for us to make the team, work effectively given the difference in our timezones. Co-ordination became difficult but we were eventually able to overcome with a more flexible schedule for both of us. It was also difficult to arrange the hardware components since both the countries were observing lockdown and shops and websites were only selling essentials. It was most difficult, however, to fine-tune the code based on the Bot's response. I would have to write the code and share it with Abhijeet who would click videos of the bot's performance. I would then have to judge, from those videos, how the code can be improved.
Accomplishments that We're proud of
This bot is just what we wanted to build when we started making it. It is fully automated and has a great obstacle avoidance rate. Aside from super small objects, it can avoid everything. This is a great step to making its introduction in a real use environment.
What We learned
Along the way to build this bot, we got to explore several key hardware components and got to use a completely new language. Moreover, we also learned how to communicate with each other effectively and work as a team, irrespective of the distance between us and the co-operation expected of us.
What's next for COVID Bot
The COVID Bot is only fully automated. However, to make it user friendly we aim to provide remote control to it. The bot will also have a camera to picture the surroundings to allow it to be controlled without a physical visual necessity. This added feature will let the hospital management decide whether it's better to control the bot from a remote location or if its safe for the bot to be autonomous. We aim to donate these bots, starting from our nearest hospitals to curb the contact the sanitation workers come in with the COVID-19 patients.
First Person: Gautam