As public places around the world prepare to reopen in the wake of the novel coronavirus crisis, a host of disinfection robot providers have emerged to address the need. Some are university spinoffs and startups, others are healthcare suppliers, and a few are established robotics companies. Fetch Robotics Inc. today announced that it has partnered with Piedmont National Corp. to launch the SmartGuardUV system.
Current reopening best practices include the spot cleaning of high-traffic facilities in addition to thorough overnight cleaning regimens, said San Jose, Calif.-based Fetch, a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner. Public health experts recommend that businesses disinfect high-traffic areas between shifts or after large numbers of people have left rooms.
“The facilities best prepared to protect workers and customers from COVID-19 are taking extreme precautions when it comes to sanitization and are placing their trust in automated solutions that can be deployed at any time,” stated Stefan Nusser, chief product officer at Fetch Robotics. “Companies of every size recognize the need for reliable sanitization procedures, and SmartGuardUV provides reliable protection at every hour of the day without taking employees away from their existing responsibilities.”
New AMR uses 3D vision and the cloud
Fetch Robotics said the SmartGuardUV autonomous mobile robot (AMR) combines the safety and flexibility of its hardware and software, the strength of PURO Lighting’s pulsed xenon UV lamp, and the disinfection reporting of the Piedmont 4Site cloud analytics platform.
“The SmartGuardUV focuses on high-touch areas, so it’s well-suited for spaces that need frequent disinfection,” said JohnDavid Thompson, executive director of SmartGuardUV. “It’s designed to operate in a large number of industrial, commercial, retail, educational, restaurant, fitness, and office applications with a targeted approach to all high-touch surfaces in those facilities.”
Fetch said its 3D camera vision and cloud-based robotics platform enable the robot to autonomously map and navigate throughout a facility and enter a desired space. SmartGuardUV can then activate the pulsed UV light for targeted disinfection, reposition for maximum coverage, disinfect, and then move to the next space without any human intervention.
The robot has a built-in motion sensor for automatic shutoff to avoid exposing people to harmful UV radiation, Thompson told The Robot Report. In addition, facility managers can customize the robot’s schedules and disinfecting paths, even remotely, as facility needs change.
SmartGuardUV targets disinfection
SmartGuardUV can autonomously direct broad-spectrum UV light from a pulsed xenon lamp made by PURO Lighting and based on technology from Violet Defense LLC. The robot uses lamp technology that has been tested by independent, accredited, third-party testing labs and is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The technology enables the miniaturization of high-intensity, targeted light that requires as little as 90 seconds to disinfect a 10-sq.-ft. workstation and as little as six minutes to disinfect priority areas of an office or hospital room, claimed Fetch.
“UV is the best solution for this type of cleaning, as people can reenter almost immediately,” Thompson said. “Legacy UV fluorescent-based AMRs cannot target UV light and can only operate for 2 to 2.5 hours on a single charge, as the UV lamps have to stay illuminated for a significant amount of time, draining battery life. SmartGuardUV is able to operate for eight to 10 hours on a single charge.”
Broad-spectrum UV intended to eradicate pathogens
The SmartGuardUV is able to determine how long to expose an area to UV and uses a broader spectrum than other disinfection robots, said Thompson.
“The PURO light engines on the SmartGuardUV AMR precisely target UV disinfection toward those high-touch surfaces,” he said. “Our smart disinfecting technology calculates the precise amount of time required to achieve 99.9% disinfection before moving on to the next disinfecting area. This makes it more effective than other autonomous robots that use legacy mercury-based UV lamps.”
“Not all light is equally effective in the eradication of pathogens,” explained Thompson. “Low-pressure mercury vapor technology emits continuous UV-C at one wavelength — 254nm. This single wavelength of low-intensity, continuous UV is not the most efficient wavelength to create pathogen damage.”
“SmartGuardUV Pulsed Xenon systems produce germicidal UV at all wavelengths from 200-470nm,” he added. “This broad-spectrum UV light incorporates all germicidal wavelengths including those best known to deactivate the DNA and RNA of organisms.”
“Diving in a little deeper: UV-C (200-280 nm) is most traditionally referred to as germicidal UV with ability to kill bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungi,” said Thompson. “UV-A (320-400 nm) and UV-B (280-320nm) provide additional benefits by light causing oxidation of proteins and lipids causing cell death. Broad-spectrum UV lamps have also been shown to inhibit photo-reactivation, the process that can result in self-repair of damaged microbes.”
Piedmont National provides reporting
“Piedmont National and Fetch Robotics have partnered on numerous end-user automated solutions for the past three years,” said Thompson. “As we’ve seen the increase in demand for automated disinfection solutions, we partnered to develop what we believe is the smartest and more efficient UV disinfection robot in the marketplace.”
SmartGuardUV includes an optional real-time dashboard that provides actionable insights and reporting of disinfection data. 4Site reports on data, including photographic evidence of the disinfection or anything that might prevent the robot from completing its task.
“The 4Site analytics platform integrates seamlessly with Fetchcore [cloud-based management software] to communicate duration of cleaning based upon distances and information from the Fetch base, as well as the orientation of the robot to ensure accurate and thorough cleaning,” explained Thompson. “The 4Site software then provides detailed analytics and reports of each disinfection location and the overall schedule, as well as ongoing monitoring of status of all components within the UV tower.”
“We believe this combination of targeted disinfection within a space and longer operational time results in an autonomous disinfection robot that is much more effective than other autonomous robots,” said John Garlock, chief sales officer of Piedmont National. The company has 16 locations throughout the U.S. and said it has been a leader in industrial automation and packaging systems for over 65 years.
SmartGuardUV pricing and Fetch partnerships
How much does SmartGuardUV cost? “The price for a single unit is between $75,000 and $80,000, but pricing will vary based upon quantity in a single location or rollout across a large chain,” replied Thompson.
“To help make this unit more easily deployed for our customers, we have created special pricing plans that enable a customer to deploy this unit with no upfront cost for as little as $110 per day on a single robot,” he said. “And we have included a bumper-to-bumper warranty and maintenance plan with ongoing upgrades to all components, including UV light engines, for the length of the lease or service agreement.”
“We’re in a good spot in that our first two forays into automated disinfection cover a big breadth of business needs,” said Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics. “Breezy One — through our partnership with Build with Robots — is designed specifically for large spaces like warehouses, museums, airports, and other large locations that benefit from a single deep cleaning overnight.”
“SmartGuardUV is designed for targeted disinfection of high-touch surfaces, which can be reoccupied as soon as the disinfecting is complete,” she added. “This combination of disinfecting robots, both of which having unique disinfection ‘engines,’ opens up smart, automated cleaning solutions to businesses with a diversity of needs.”