A Trinity-linked company has developed a robot that could help Irish hospitals improve their disinfecting processes amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Akara Robotics – a start-up that began in Trinity’s Robotics and Innovation Lab, and created world-famous robot Stevie – has now developed Robot Violet, which emits ultraviolet light clinically proven to kill viruses, bacteria and harmful germs.
While the standard sterilisation procedure for a hospital room can take up to five hours, Robot Violet robot can complete the same process in half the time.
The robot was tested in a hospital in the Dublin area last week, after its inventor Dr Conor McGinn – an assistant professor in Trinity – reached out to the HSE.
Speaking to the Irish Times, McGinn said: “This system could reduce dependency on the use of chemical-based solutions, which may be effective but requires rooms to be vacated for several hours during sterilisation, making them impractical for many parts of the hospital.”
Currently, many pieces of high-tech equipment have to be sterilised manually as they cannot be disinfected using “deep chemicals”, but Robot Violet could be used instead, McGinn said.
He added that he was confident that the technology would be effective in hospitals, though some adjustments to the robot may be required. The lab is currently waiting for test results showing the effectiveness of the robot’s use in the Dublin hospital.
“We are very happy with the progress we are making”, he said.
Akara Robotics was founded in Trinity’s Robotics & Innovation Lab, which is also the birthplace of Stevie, a social robot that can “make friends” with carers and older people in residential care settings.
Yesterday, The University Times reported that several of Trinity’s science departments have donated personal protective equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves to St James’s and Tallaght hospitals to help healthcare workers treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 208 coronavirus patients in Ireland are HSE staff. In the last week, 60,000 healthcare workers – students among them – signed up to volunteer with the HSE’s “Be on Call for Ireland” initiative.