Robots are in high demand as medical professionals seek hands-free ways to disinfect environments and contain the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.
Hospitals in China, for example, have ordered more than 2,000 disinfection robots from the Denmark-based Blue Ocean Robotics.
The UVD-Robots from Blue Ocean Robotics move autonomously around patients' rooms and operating theatres, covering critical surfaces with virus- and bacteria-killing ultraviolet light.
The more light the robot exposes to a surface, the more harmful microorganisms are destroyed. In a typical patient room, 99.99 % of all viruses and bacteria are eliminated within 10 minutes.
The collaborative robot disengages its ultraviolet light when someone enters the room.
The units were deployed in Wuhan, where the global pandemic began, and have since been operating in more than 40 countries – in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
The immediate demand for medical robots has increased significantly with the outbreak of COVID-19, according to Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics.
"Existing customers buy many more units than before, and many new customers are ordering the UVD robots to fight coronavirus and other harmful microorganisms,” said Risager.
The UV-Disinfection robots can be operated remotely, protecting staff and patients during the disinfection process as well as freeing up medical professionals for other critical tasks.
In addition to the UVD units, mobile robots like Phollower from Slovakia-based Photoneo have also been safely distributing hospital material in quarantine zones without personal contact.
Berkeley University is using robotics to leverage its "pop-up" testing lab. An automated liquid-handling robot will analyze swabs from patients and diagnose COVID-19 .
Medical robots have a great potential of support in the current severe coronavirus pandemic and represent a well-established market with considerable growth potential, said Dr Susanne Bieller, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics.
Sales of medical robots increased by 50% to 5,100 units in 2018, according to statistics published in World Robotics.
“They can support us in healthcare environments, but also in the development, testing and production of medicine, vaccines and other medical devices and auxiliaries," said Dr. Biellier.
The International Federation of Robotics , founded in 1987 as a non-profit organization, represents almost 60 manufacturers of industrial robots and national robot associations from over twenty countries.
What do you think? Share your questions and comments below.