— Background

The time to perform disinfectant cleaning in radiology treatment rooms (i.e. rooms with CT scanners, X-ray) for patients with COVID (or any other infectious disease) is more than 10 times longer than it takes to perform the procedure. This is resulting in a massive loss of capacity of front-line radiology services that are critical for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID and non-COVID patients. This current disinfectant process is labour intensive, time consuming and places front-line workers at significant risk (many cleaners have started to resign as a result).

— Aim of project

We propose the use of a novel robot technology that can rapidly disinfect radiology treatment rooms using scientifically proven UV germicidal irradiation (UVGI) technology. One or more robots will be deployed in a radiology treatment room and programmed to follow a predefined trajectory, irradiating surfaces as it moves. Some degree of manual cleaning may still be required (we estimate <5 minutes in total), and this can be undertaken while the robot is in the room (enabled by a range of proprietary in-built robot safety features). We are confident that our system can reduce the time to disinfect rooms by a factor of 4-6X. We aim to deploy UV disinfectant robots in Radiology departments in a regional Irish hospital, where they will be used alongside existing cleaning procedures to reduce dependency on human staff and improve workflow/equipment utilization.

— Methods

The project will be conducted in two 4 week phases. In phase 1, we will deploy beta versions of our UV disinfection robot in an Irish hospital. We will work closely with infection control and radiology teams at the hospital to best integrate the robot within room disinfection practices. In phase 2, we will deploy replace the beta version of the robot with an upgraded CE-marked version. We will provide operational support, training to ensure efficient integration of the technology.

— Expected Results

By the end of week 8, it is expected that robots will be fully operational at the host Irish hospital, where it will remain indefinitely. The method of deploying the robot developed over this 8 week period will be easily replicated in other hospitals, thus enabling rapid scaling of the solution.

The Akara team comprises some of the country’s leading robotics experts. The product leverages more than a year of scientific research on the effectiveness of germicidal UV lighting, conducted at one of the Ireland’s leading microbiology labs. We are receiving close support from the Irish national healthcare service (HSE). This relationship will provide a platform to rapidly scale the technology to other Irish hospitals, as well as to healthcare settings within Europe.

Major project results and project impact created by the robot technology with a 360° computer vision system used to track people in the vicinity of the robot:
– Disinfection benchmarking against manual techniques (time and effectiveness)
– An interactive graphical user interface
– Hospital proof-of-concept validation

Declaration of impact