It is called GermIrrad, and it is a robot that autonomously disinfects public spaces, even when they are being used by people, using ultraviolet radiation and non-harmful chemical solutions to human health. Developed at the University of Aveiro (UA), the robot is capable of mapping the environment, determining an efficient disinfection trajectory, executing that trajectory safely, and avoiding human contact.
Born from a partnership between the Institute of Electronics and Informatics Engineering of Aveiro (IEETA) at UA, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, and SpinnerDynamics, the GermIrrad is safe, effective, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. It was designed to promote biosafety in various spaces, such as healthcare facilities like hospitals or clinics, areas with high concentrations of people like public transportation, shopping malls, or event spaces, and industrial zones like agribusiness or the food industry to ensure product safety and prevent losses from the spread of viral or bacterial diseases.
“The objective of this robot is to enable efficient and autonomous disinfection of public spaces while they are being used. The robot is capable of mapping the environment, determining an efficient disinfection trajectory, and executing that trajectory safely,” explains Nuno Lau, a researcher at IEETA at UA and one of the project’s responsible members. The remaining team members at UA are researchers José Luis Azevedo and Eurico Pedrosa.
While the development of social navigation that allows the robot to move safely and comfortably (for people) in environments with the presence of humans is still being finalized, the other modules of this technology, such as detecting and tracking people around the robot, are already developed. “The added value of this project lies in the combination of various disinfection methods (chemical and UV light) that have proven to be more efficient than each method separately, and in the ability to disinfect spaces in the presence of humans,” says the researcher.
“UA is a clear expert in robotics, especially in social navigation, given the recognized expertise of Professor Nuno Lau. Therefore, they were the right people to embrace the project and allow the developed solutions to be autonomous by efficiently integrating them into a robotic platform,” points out Daniel Braga, one of the responsible members of SpinnerDynamics, the leading co-promoter company that developed synergistic disinfection technology using germicidal radiation, Far-UVC, and photocatalytic substances. SpinnerDynamics also integrated the technology into the robotic platform.
UA, through Nuno Lau, conducted research and development in the fields of robotics, specifically in the areas of navigation for disinfection and social navigation. The germicidal effectiveness of ultraviolet radiation and photocatalytic substances (which, in combination with radiation, are even more effective in inactivating viruses and bacteria) was validated at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto by Professor Manuel Simões.
This project received support from project POCI-01-0247-FEDER-072237, funded by Portugal 2020|COMPETE, NORTE2020, and CENTRO2020 through the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER).