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How robotics helps cleaning during COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to move through the United States and other countries around the world, robots have become the go-to method for keeping buildings clean. Robotics can clean large buildings like hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and shopping centres more efficiently than humans can.

Cleaning Floors in Commercial Buildings

In the post-COVID world, robots are used to clean commercial floors. With an autonomous mobile robot taking care of cleaning floors, human employees can do other more thoughtful and valuable tasks. Instead of using a traditional floor cleaner, floor-scrubbing robots can be filled with disinfectants that kill the COVID-19 virus. As most retail businesses now close down for the evening, autonomous robots can disinfect the floors each night while human employees can do the same on door handles, POS machines, and high-touch areas that robots cannot reach.

Using UV to Sanitise Rooms

Another robot that is making its way through large buildings to help clean during the COVID-19 pandemic is a UV robot. Instead of using a liquid disinfectant, these robots use ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. The robots use the short-wavelength UV light to kill microorganisms like viruses.

Robots are programmed to map the space so they will not bump into furniture or other items on the floor. Then, the robot moves around the building, avoiding furniture and other waypoints. The robots can spread UV light in 4,000 square feet in about 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes, about 90% of the coronavirus on surfaces is killed.

Small versions are being used in hospitals in the United States. Larger versions are being tested to use in warehouses and larger spaces. It should take long before these are commonly seen in workplaces around the country.

Chemical Tank Cleaners

The pandemic has shown us how important it is to keep people out of confined spaces. These seem to be hotbeds for spreading the virus. This is where tank-cleaning robots have become stars. These remote-controlled robots can clean chemical tanks in a fraction of the time that it takes humans to do the same job.

As an added bonus, robotic tank cleaners do not need to wear valuable PPE, and they do not need breaks throughout the day. The employees who run the robotic tank cleaner can run the machine while still maintaining safe social-distancing space, too.

These robotic tank cleaning robots can enter small spaces, with openings around two-feet in diameter, so that people can stay safe outside of the tanks. Tank-cleaning robots do need to be disinfected when they are finished cleaning the sludge and chemical residue in the tanks. But,

they do not have to be disinfected every time they leave the confined spaces, only after the job is complete.

Disinfectant-spraying Robots

To solve the problems of keeping facilities clean, researchers are developing robots that can effectively spray a room using a mobile platform. Rather than endangering humans, these robots are being programmed to spray in hard-to-reach areas with movements that mimic human movements.

The robots use a disinfectant tank attached to a spray nozzle to clean hospital rooms and other heavily infected areas. They can run for several hours on a single charge, and they can be controlled remotely through laptops and tablets. They are not yet available for hospitals, schools, or other public buildings, but they should be available soon.

Using Robots to Clean Subways

When people use the subway to get from point A to point B, they put themselves in harm’s way in a confined space. To keep these spaces as clean as possible, subway management turned to robots. The robots look like mini-fridges on wheels. They enter the subway car and spray a solution that includes hydrogen peroxide on surfaces. These robots are able to get into spaces that humans often overlook. These robots can be used several times per day.

Efficiency, Efficacy, and Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world how vulnerable humans are to viruses. To keep humans safe, robots can do the dirty and dangerous jobs. Robots are ideally suited to keep our spaces clean. They can be programmed to enter and manoeuvre through small spaces or large rooms. Also, they do not have to use PPE or follow hygiene rules regarding social distancing. Robots do not get bored, and they do not cut corners. They do what they are programmed to do, and they can clean chemical tanks, subway cars, hospital rooms, and more.

Cleaning robots are investments in people and facilities. They are not cheap, but as time goes by, they pay for themselves. Their return-on-investment comes as they keep employees safe, and avoid employees from having to enter contaminated spaces. Robots can clean for as long as they can keep a charge, and they do not need breaks as human employees do. We should all expect to see more cleaning robots moving through public buildings, even if the pandemic comes to an end.


About Sarah OBeirne

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