COVID-19 has exploded into a global pandemic. The virus can remain infectious on some surfaces for up to days and in the air for hours. To contain the spread of the virus, many establishments have been disinfecting high-traffic areas much more frequently, spiking demand for cleaning services. As a result, many cleaning companies are facing a manpower crunch. With COVID-19 projected to last for months, these companies may not be able to satisfy this increased demand in the long term. Hence, we are introducing spRAY-19 to help cleaning companies as well as property owners disinfect common areas more quickly and more effectively while using less manpower.
What it does
spRAY-19 is a battery-operated robotic platform to serve the purpose of disinfection along pre-planned routes in public areas. It will follow a path denoted by a black line on the ground. First, it has a misting system that continuously sprays disinfectant mist while the robot is moving to sanitise its surroundings. The misting system will be powered by a small onboard air compressor. A spray gun will be used to draw liquid disinfectant from a tank and discharge it as mist into the air. Second, the robot is equipped with a UV-C (100–280 nm) lamp mounted on the end effector of a robot arm. The end effector of the robot arm is 3 DOF in order to irradiate the surface area of an object such as a doorknob or lift buttons with UV light. We plan to use Machine Vision to recognise the objects to be disinfected. Once the object has been detected and identified, the robot arm will follow a pre-programmed set of instructions to disinfect that specific object. The robot arm will be programmed to expose the surface of the object to UV light for at least 4 seconds to effectively kill the virus. Third, it will also scan its own surroundings for obstacles. When people are walking by, the robot will remind them to not get too close, and when it is radiating UV rays, it will automatically switch the UV light off when people are nearby. If someone obstructs its path, the robot will stop moving and request the person to move away.
What's next for spRAY-19
Existing cleaning robots are costly to own and operate, and focus on cleaning the floor. Our idea serves the purpose of disinfection with the dual function of misting disinfectant and UV radiation. As many companies struggle to muster the manpower needed to disinfect public spaces, spRAY-19 can help fill the manpower gap cheaply and effectively as it is a cost-effective solution specifically targeted at disinfecting public areas. With public spaces regularly disinfected by spRAY-19, the general public can be better protected against exposure to the virus.
spRAY-19’s relevance is not limited to the current Covid-19 situation, but will remain useful long after the pandemic is over. Our robot will reduce the manpower needed for cleaning general areas, increasing the productivity and efficiency of cleaning services in the long run.