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INESC TEC will develop an autonomous robot to disinfect hospitals

RADAR – an Autonomous Robot for Disinfection at Hospitals - is one of INESC TEC's projects approved by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) within the scope of the exclusive line of financing to address the Covid-19 pandemic. The autonomous robot developed by the Centre for Robotics in Industry and Intelligent Systems (CRIIS) will help disinfecting rooms at hospital units, through sensors and UV lamps.

24th April 2020

In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare services need to disinfect contaminated areas effectively, in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The project focuses on the development of a robotic disinfection system through the emission of UV radiation. The robot will include an autonomous navigation system i.e. it will be able to locate and navigate through contaminated rooms, monitor the presence of people in the surroundings, and carry out the disinfection process independently. The architecture is modular and adaptable to different robotic platforms that already exist.

The robot will carry out a systematic and uninterrupted cleaning process, thus generating gains in terms of quality, effectiveness and productivity – by favouring the redirecting of human resources to other tasks. In addition, thanks to this robot, healthcare professionals and service providers will not be as exposed to toxic and corrosive products used in said disinfection procedures.

“The disinfection process is carried through UV light, since it is capable of killing or incapacitating microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA, thus leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions. Depending on the frequency, prolonged exposure to UV light can be harmful to the skin and the eyes. In this sense, we are designing a method to detect the presence of people and to interrupt the process of irradiation in their presence, particularly in cases where the UV light used is actually dangerous”, said António Paulo Moreira (coordinator of CRIIS and project leader) and Adriano Carvalho (Director of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at FEUP and researcher at SYSTEC). “We will carefully and thoroughly analyse this aspect, in collaboration with FEUP’s Research Centre for Systems and Technologies (SYSTEC), the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP)”, they concluded.

With financial support of more than 29,000€, this is one of the 66 projects funded by the “RESEARCH 4 COVID-19” financing line, created to support R&D projects and initiatives (already underway or under development) that address the needs of the National Health Service (SNS), particularly those related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will begin in May and last for three months.

INESC TEC is the coordinator of the project, with FEUP, SYSTEC, FMUP, the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences, the University Hospital Centres of São João (CHUSJ) and Santo António and the São Martinho Hospital (Valongo) as partners.

The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with UP-FEUP.