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The ultraviolet robot that could help during COVID-19

The design from a bradley professor could be more thorough than similar robots. Photo provided by Suruz Miah

Technology that could possibly help with disinfection during the pandemic is being developed here at Bradley.

A project led by Suruz Miah, Bradley assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is focused on designing a robot that could potentially be used to help with cleaners who are put at risk when they enter a room with COVID-19 pathogens on the surfaces. The robot utilizes ultraviolet (UV) lights for cleaning.

Miah said that robots of similar designs are on the market for thousands of dollars but are limited to shining UV light horizontally; his design would shine vertically and horizontally, allowing for more surfaces to be sanitized. He hopes it would be much more cost-efficient.

“The main goal would be towards cost-effectiveness,” Miah said. “In the market, you can [see] about $4,000, or $10,000 even, ones. We’re planning to have a completely fully functional robot under $1,000.”

The difference in price makes Miah hope that it would be used in multiple settings, mainly in hospitals but also in work, educational or residential settings.

Human intervention would be largely minimized with the design when it comes to sanitization. The product is not yet on the market considering it is still in the design process.

Senior electrical engineering major, Brian Laurer, asked to join Miah over the summer to be a part of the project development. Laurer said he’s assisting in design.

“One feature we’re trying to add is the ability to drive under sofas and chairs, disinfect any area possible,” Laurer said. “This will hopefully be a bit more versatile and drive into other places that those robots could access.”

Along with UV, the robot will be equipped with sensors and disinfection spray as UV lighting could be harmful to humans and animals that can’t relocate if they are present in the room. The robot would also have a vacuum for further cleaning.

Users of the robot could wirelessly direct the machine with an app from their phone. The sensors would give users a map of the progress made so far and what areas still need disinfecting.

Miah said that he’s looking to get funding for this design. With funding, he’s hoping to hire students so they will have a longer commitment to the project on top of their studies.

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