Robots on the frontlines of the Pandemic


Violet is the name of a new robot from Akara Robotics, it was designed as a support system when the Pandemic first hit. It is an open-source machine that disinfects its surroundings with ultraviolet light. An ultraviolet robot is basically a big mobile lightbulb on wheels that moves around emitting UV. The UV emitted is strong enough to destroy a virus’s genetic material. It is effective against the new SARS-Corona Virus 2 responsible for the current crisis. It works well in confined spaces with heavy traffic like hospitals, airports, hotels, and food banks.

This is not a new concept and similar UV robots have become extremely popular in the last few months, with sales increasing up to 600 percent. In hospitals, these robots are extremely useful in cleaning testing rooms like CT scanning room very quickly as these tests are the most effective in detecting a positive case of Covid-19. Human cleaning might take up to an hour for proper disinfection which becomes impossible with the number of cases increasing daily. The UV robot can do this in 15 minutes, but human interaction is still needed for hard to reach places like behind a door handle.

In Belgium, at Antwerp University Hospital robots serve a more technical purpose. They can screen potential patients as they arrive using sensors and cameras that check a patient’s temperature and verifies a mask. The robot is able to deny entry to those not wearing masks. It hands out a QR code that entrants have to scan, leading to a questionnaire that entrants have to answer before gaining entry. The robot then directs them to the rightwards within the hospital. This amount of automation has continued to succeed in ever increasing numbers ever since the pandemic started.

Both of these cases heavily relied on complex AI algorithms including machine learning to do even the most basic tasks and as we can see they have become something of a necessity in most cases. When a robot or automated system can efficiently accomplish a task, why would anyone return to a system vulnerable to the further crisis? This is actually good news for the human race as a whole, even the people who might initially lose their jobs can go onto do bigger, better, and more productive things, instead of wasting away at a menial task.

The pandemic itself has been extremely tragic and extremely negative, but the innovations following are jumping generation extremely quickly and delivering fantastic results.


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