The McGill University Health Centre is testing a new robotic autonomous disiinfecting robot. (RI MUHC)

COVID-19: Canada tests disinfecting robot

A first in Canada

As a multitude of efforts are being made to combat the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is testing a new technology

Looking something like a Dalek from the old Dr Who series, the robot is autonomous and uses the known technology of concentrated Ultra Violet (UV-C) light to kill bacteria and viruses. Because it is light radiation it also reaches into shadowed areas which may otherwise be obscured by beds or tables or equipment

Before and after an operation, and in empty patient rooms, the $120,000 machine will travel around the space disinfecting.

Disinfection of a space is much faster with the robot than by manual methods, and while it takes about an hour even after current disinfecting techniques before a surgical theatre can be used, with this machine a theatre can be used almost immediately.

“We ordered this robot as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging in China and Europe, with the objective to be first to evaluate this technology in Canada. An automated system can potentially improve patient safety, as well as protect hospital personnel,” says Dr. Bruce Mazer, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the RI-MUHC (Interim). “The robot was delivered at the RI-MUHC on Monday April 27, and will be tested in one patient room and one operating room at the RI-MUHC Centre for Innovative Medicine at the Glen site. We will also take this opportunity to assess if it can be used to disinfect stretchers and N-95 masks.

He added, ““We are going to test its mobility, if it is able to go to our rooms, in all corners, if UV light touches all parts of the room, and in addition if the robot is able to enter the bathrooms (in private rooms) and completely disinfect them,”

The automated robot is controlled by GPS and can memorize a room so can be sent to disinfect a room the same way whenever needed, spotting objects to avoid them in its path.  Because of the intenstity of light, people must not be in the room with the machine operating.

Testing at the MUHC ends today, but will continue at other hospitals in Montreal with results to be evaluated.

This Danish technology is already being used in other countries in Asia and Europe  and will be tested in other hospitals

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