Published: 02nd April 2020
This human-shaped robot by IIT, AIIMS alumni can sterilise spaces to restrict COVID-19 spread. Here's how
According to the innovators, the device Airlens Minus Corona's power lies in electrifying water droplets to kill the novel Coronavirus
The count in India as of April 1 stands at 1590 positive COVID-19 cases and 45 deaths. As scientists, health experts, and others are looking for various methods to ward off the Coronavirus, following the philosophy of prevention is better than cure, IIT and AIIMS alumni Debayan Saha and Dr Shashi Ranjan have developed a device called Airlens Minus Corona — a huge human-shaped robot that will travel across cities to sterilise public spaces like streets, bus stands, shopping malls, hospitals, railway stations, and more to potentially restrict the spread.
According to the duo, Airlens Minus Corona's power lies in electrifying water droplets to kill Coronavirus. The innovators have come up with a way to kill the virus using charged or ionised water droplets. Water droplets can be ionised using 'Corona Discharge', they said. Such ionised water droplets can help in the oxidation of viral proteins into non-harmful molecules. The innovators believe that the electrification of water can work as a larger version of what an alcohol-based hand sanitiser can do in comparatively smaller spaces. This way, the oxidation technique can potentially sterilise an entire city. "I found out about the power of oxidation during my research work at the National University of Singapore. During my research on Biomedical Science, I was working on bacteria and microbes. There I learned that microbes could be inactivated by oxidation. Therefore, the idea to make the virus ineffective with this technique came from previous research experience," says Dr Ranjan.
PerSapien innovations, their start-up under which the duo has created this device, already has several other innovations to its credit. They had earlier come up with a device that fights air pollution called the Minus2point5, which formed the basis for this device. "Based on this technology we were creating a device meant for air purification, trying to bring down the pollution level. But with the sudden outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, we realised that it is our duty and responsibility to come up with an innovation that could save humanity from the gruesome effects of the virus. So, we reconsidered the existing robot technology meant for reducing air pollution to fight against the COVID-19 outbreak," adds Debayan.
The sudden lockdown did not deter their spirits to finish their creation, instead, they finished it with whatever resources they could procure. "We came up with the idea of such a device before the lockdown. We were already halfway through the process of formulating it when the lockdown was announced on March 26. Therefore, once the lockdown was implemented we worked on the device at one of our partners' EPP (Electro Plaza Project) factory to not halt the innovation in the middle and to ensure that we completed what we started," says Dr Ranjan.
Considering the state of emergency and crisis faced by the citizens, the duo has reached out to the Government so that with the help of Airlens Minus Corona they can disinfect cities and places across the country. They won't be selling the device as they intend to make the technology available for the service of the citizens in the most cost-effective way. "We want more engineers to produce such devices to help us fight this pandemic," adds Debayan.
The innovators will be working with the West Bengal Government for the deployment of Airlens Minus Corona in the state. The duo's innovation has also been recognised by the New Delhi-based Technology Development Board (TDB) under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. Dr Ranjan and Debayan are working with their team to manufacture a few more similar devices, however, they are also running short of raw materials and space due to the 21-day lockdown across the country.