The prototype of the in-house developed UV-C disinfection robot using artificial intelligence is ready, and after the necessary tests, production can start this year. The development of the R&D department of the Hungarian B+N Referencia Zrt. is already attracting interest from abroad.
The need for UV-C robots with advanced navigation capabilities has been created by the need for fast and efficient disinfection of sites and facilities. Especially those visited by large crowds, such as hospitals or public transport vehicles, where many surfaces of varying geometry need to be disinfected in a relatively short time.
B+N Referencia Zrt. started the project with its R&D team, LAB/DA Innovations, 3 years ago using the experience of the autonomous cleaning robots also developed in-house. Artificial intelligence and advanced obstacle detection systems play an important role in the operation of the autonomous UV-C disinfection robot.
The risks of conventional solutions
Conventional disinfection methods carry the risk of developing pathogens resistant to the chemicals used in the process. These pathogens are highly resistant to standard chemical-based disinfection procedures, which can increase the risk of hospital-acquired infections even with the most careful cleaning and disinfection procedures. UV-C radiation causes critical damage to the genetic material of microorganisms such as bacteria, preventing their reproduction and survival. As far as is currently known, UV-C radiation does not develop resistance, which is a significant advantage over conventional chemicals.
The challenge came from the specificities of disinfection with UV-C radiation, such as the ability to reach surfaces in a covered area. This feature reduced the effectiveness of the most commonly used equipment, set to a specific point in a room.
AI algorithm with visual information for flawless results
The new robot autonomously moves its UV-C emitter to irradiate the area from multiple points rather than one, reducing the number of covered surfaces. The equipment follows the route defined on the pre-recorded map of the room for autonomous navigation. It avoids obstacles missing from the initial map by using an artificial intelligence algorithm based partly on visual information. It calculates the actual dose, i.e. the level of radiation, from the 3D model taken during the decontamination and provides visual feedback to the operator and the professionals involved. In this way, the quality of disinfection can be checked and any additional manual disinfection required can be determined.
The production of UV-C robots could start this year
The prototype is now undergoing further testing but could go into production as early as this year. The project was also supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office. Last year, manufacturers and service providers using UV-C radiation in the disinfection of facilities and means of transport also established a joint platform called the Hungarian UV-C Association. The Association provides a framework for mutual information exchange, professional training, the localisation of international experience and the creation of an environment that helps the spread of UV-C disinfection technology. B+N Referencia Zrt. also participated in the foundation of the professional organization.
In response to the increasing demand, the National Centre for Public Health, in cooperation with professional representatives, has started to develop a procedure for the certification of UV-C disinfection equipment, to which B+N Referencia Zrt. has also delegated experts.