NUI Galway and UL Scientists Launch Ultraviolet Drone to Fight COVID-19

@UVCDrone sterilising hospital ward
Jun 03 2020 Posted: 10:19 IST

Irish scientists have collaborated to develop an innovative autonomous drone platform to deliver sterilising ultraviolet light from above to disinfect public surfaces and therefore reduce the transmission of coronavirus and other microbial threats

Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab have developed a novel method of providing sterilising ultraviolet light radiation in a wide variety of environments by harnessing the versatility of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The project is led by NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Dr Ted Vaughan, with Dr Kevin Johnson from the University of Limerick.

As the world recovers from the first surge of COVID-19, there is a real need for a novel and versatile solutions to sanitise the wide terrain variety of public places. These include hospital wards, restaurants, trains, buses, planes, shopping centres, airport terminals, restrooms, amongst other. To help combat this issue the research team have developed @UVCDrone which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilise surfaces. UV light (10-400 nm) is not visible to the human eye and is divided into three bands UVA, UVB and UVC. The @UVCDrone uses UVC (100-280nm) which is high frequency, short wavelength radiation that can destroy the genetic material of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and thereby providing the ability to sterilise surfaces. Its germicidal action has been used for decades in water, air, laboratory and medical applications.

Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “We need innovative solutions to fight COVID-19 and our @UVCDrone solution allows the delivery of sterilising ultraviolet light to a wide variety of public space landscapes from staircases to shop floors.”

UVC light is harmful to humans, so the @UVCDrone delivers the UVC light when the public space is unoccupied, such as at night time. The drone is programmed to switch on at a pre-defined time, autonomously fly around the public space using a bespoke AI algorithm and when finished cleaning, land again for recharging.

Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick added: “COVID19 is a public health emergency and @UVCDrone is another important tool to help us defeat it.”

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