The global demand for robots to disinfect hospital wards, aircraft, food-processing facilities, and public spaces far outstrips the supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keenon Robotics Co., one of the largest service robot providers in China, has joined the market with its new disinfection robot.
Keenon already makes robots to guide customers, display advertising, and deliver items in hotels, restaurants, and healthcare facilities. Late last year, the Shanghai-based company began rolling out its Peanut mobile robots worldwide. It responded quickly to the novel coronavirus crisis, donating hundreds within China and more than 50 overseas.
“While people are wearing masks, we’re starting to get back to normal,” said Simi Wang, director of global sales at Keenon. “We released the disinfection robot three months ago here in China, and it’s being used in a number of hospitals so far.”
Keenon disinfection robot has three modes
Like Peanut, Keenon’s disinfection robot uses lidar, machine vision, and multi-sensor fusion to autonomously navigate. It can also work with elevators, follow route maps, and collect and share data on what it has done and where.
The robot disinfects with four short-wave UV-C lamps and a liquid sprayer. “It can spray in a 5 m [15 ft.] radius and disinfect a room in 15 minutes,” Wang told The Robot Report. “Studies have proven that it is effective against 99.9% of bacteria.”
“It has three modes,” she explained. “In the first, the user can chose between the UV and the chemical spray or turn them both on.” People should avoid direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which is why robots can be helpful for destroying pathogens.
“In the second feature, the robot can choose to navigate on a certain route,” added Wang. “It can remember multiple routes.”
“In the third mode, the robot can operate following the selection of a room for navigation,” she said. “It can disinfect up to four rooms in one mission. This self-navigating mode can be done in a loop and is ideal for most hospitals.”
Keenon’s disinfection robot can also return to a charging unit on its own. “Not a lot of robots on the market have this feature,” said Wang. “Our robot can run for eight hours — or five to six hours if you turn on everything. Some clients have said Keenon’s robots have a longer battery life than other robots.”
More robots arriving to serve global market
“Keenon’s disinfection robot is available now, and we have been producing and selling a lot of them,” said Wang. “We’ve received lots of orders from Western markets, but the lead time is a bit longer — four weeks.” The new robot has EC certification, and contact Wang for more information.
Several disinfection robots have emerged in response to COVID-19. Along with supply chain and delivery robots, they will help the mobile robotics market grow to $23 billion by 2021, predicts ABI Research.
Each system takes a slightly different approach. For instance, the award-winning UVD Robot made by the Blue Ocean Robotics subsidiary of the same name relies purely on UV-C, has had clinical tests, and has found global demand.
San Antonio, Texas-based Xenex Disinfection Services yesterday announced that its LightStrike disinfection robot has been proven by the Texas Biomedical Research Institute to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes.
Lithuania-based Rubedos, Memphis-based Tru-D SmartUVC, Slovakia-based Photoneo, Los Angeles-based Dimer UVC Innovations, Singapore-based Digital Safety, and Siemens China are among the companies that have been working on disinfection robots, many with future pandemics in mind. Digital Aerolus is even offering a UVC-flashing aerial drone.
In addition, universities such as Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, the University of Southern California, and Trinity College in Dublin have rapidly developed UV and other disinfection robots, but these are further from commercialization and mass production. Healthcare organizations should carefully evaluate the efficacy of such systems.