Coronavirus: MIT Develops Autonomous Robot to Disinfect Warehouses, Schools

MIT Campus
Mariano Mantel/Flickr

Researchers at MIT recently announced that they have developed an autonomous robot technology using UV light that may keep large, open, spaces free from coronavirus. The research team hopes that the technology will eventually be used by warehouses, schools, airlines, and grocery stores.

According to a report by Engadget, researchers at MIT have developed an autonomous robot that can sanitize large spaces. The technology, which has been initially designed to work in warehouse spaces, may eventually expand its capabilities for use elsewhere.

The autonomous robot uses UVC light technology to disinfect surfaces. The sanitizing process, which is dangerous to humans if they are exposed to the UV lights, is conducted entirely by the robotic device. Similar technology has already been used to sanitize patient rooms in medical centers and hospitals.

Alyssa Pierson, a researcher that worked on the project, told Engadget that they insisted on using autonomous robotics to stop the additional spreading of the virus.

“As we drive the robot around the food bank, we are also researching new control policies that will allow the robot to adapt to changes in the environment and ensure all areas receive the proper estimated dosage,” Pierson said. “We are focused on remote operation to minimize human supervision, and therefore, the additional risk of spreading Covid-19, while running our system.”

Researcher Daniela Rus said that her team plans to develop the technology for use in other large indoor spaces including dormitories, schools, airplanes and grocery stores.

“We are excited to see the UVC disinfecting robot support our community in this time of need,” Rus said. “The insights we received from the work at GBFB has highlighted several algorithmic challenges. We plan to tackle these in order to extend the scope of autonomous UV disinfection in complex spaces, including dorms, schools, airplanes, and grocery stores.”

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