Singapore firm unveils virus-slaying robot that could aid COVID-19 fight

UV Disinfection Autonomous Mobile Robot by Digital Safety. Photo: DiSa
UV Disinfection Autonomous Mobile Robot by Digital Safety. Photo: DiSa

A Singapore company has rolled out a robot that could help disinfect public spaces such as hospitals and shopping malls using less manpower and time — as well as potential risk.

The potentially nifty solution was unveiled today amid the current COVID-19 crisis by R&D outfit Digital Safety, which promised its UV Disinfection Autonomous Mobile Robot could kill up to 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and pathogens with UV light.

“360-degree UV sanitisation methods are extremely thorough, and are able to target

hard-to-reach areas to ensure high hygiene standards are met,” company founder Eddie Chng said in his company’s announcement. “Automation is the future and will greatly assist humans in times of crisis such as this.”

The tech is similar to that used to clean medical equipment, the announcement said, and involves “destroying and disrupting the DNA or RNA structure of organisms,” preventing them from replicating and repairing.

It’s not the first. Similar UV-emitting autonomous devices have been introduced in hospitals around the world recently as the global pandemic has spread. While short-frequency, ultraviolet light is considered effective in destroying viruses, direct exposure is potentially hazardous to human health.

Like a Roomba, Digital Safety’s robot can also travel on its own after mapping its environment using laser sensors with the help of a human navigator operating it remotely. It can also detect objects blocking its path and automatically avoid them.

Interface of software used to map the robot. Photo: DiSa
Interface of software used to map the robot. Photo: DiSa

The company said it took two months to build the device, which it hopes to sell to major retailers and commercial properties. It hopes to launch a home version for the latter part of the year, though it was unsaid what regulatory hurdles it would first have to overcome.

Digital Safety is a Singapore-listed company established in 2007. It counts Walmart and M1 among its clients. 

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Anxious Singapore cabbie sets out COVID-19 conditions for her passengers
From food courts to supermarkets, here’s what social distancing looks like in Singapore

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