Published: 09th March 2021
Mahindra University team's mobile robot can disinfect surfaces, liquid and air using UV light
A team of researchers from Mahindra University have invented a mobile robot named MUDRA that can replace sanitisers using lab-generated UV light
Sanitisation is the new norm, but if you're one of those who finds dry hands and sticky surfaces uncomfortable, here's some good news. Although not market-ready yet, a team from Mahindra University has invented a mobile robot named MUDRA that can disinfect surfaces, liquids and air by using UV light.
The team members including professors Deep Seth, Bhaskar Thamma, Manish Kumar Agarwal and a student named Vishal Reddy who worked as research assistant were looking for an alternate way to sanitise that can avoid sticky surfaces, be cost-effective and be able to disinfect the surrounding air. "Before COVID, we used to use UV lights in hospitals, especially isolation zones. Many hospitals in many countries use it and we applied the same principle.The existing technology required someone to take the UV light from one room to another, so there is a slight exposure. But UV lights are harmful when humans come in direct contact with it. It is especially harmful for the eyes and skin. So I wanted to make a robot that can move from one to another autonomously. Normally, from the sun, we receive UV A and UV B. UV C gets reflected by the ozone layer. It does not enter the earth," explains Deep Seth.
So the team has been creating UV C light for their sanitisation operations. The robot is mobile, it has few sensors and is self powered with a battery. It can be operated for 2-3 hours with UV lights on. It has a laser sensor which maps the environment before it moves from one room to another. The mapping will be done by the in-built system after which you just need to give the command. It will create the shortest path to its destination. In case of any obstruction, it will create a path around it. "UV lights can destroy all kinds of germs, bacteria and viruses. We have research showing that UV light can destroy COVID and SARS viruses as well. But the duration of exposure for each virus or bacteria is different. Let's say COVID virus requires 1 minute 15 seconds, you have to programme the robot to glow for that long. In the process, other germs will also be destroyed as most germs require only a few seconds of exposure," explains Deep.
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The robot works on liquids as well, using the same science used in water purifiers. The UV light kills viruses in the water surface. If the robot is glowing the UV light and a human accidently enters the room, it has a sensor which can immediately detect the presence and switch off the UV light.
Deep adds, "We started working on autonomous robots two years ago. The target was just to build a mobile autonomous robot that can work in areas like industries. Last summer, I went to IIT Delhi for a research programme. I took a few students with me. We worked on the mobile robot platform. When we came back, we started working on our own project. Our robot can have several add ons if necessary. As a research project, we spent around 2.5 lakhs. But if it goes to the market, it would cost about 2 lakhs. For now, we are only using it within our university."
The robot is ideal for use in areas like shops, manufacturing plants, hospitals, hotels, tech parks as long as everything is on the same level. If not, it will at least need an elevator.