UVC-PURGE: A Novel Cost-Effective Disinfection Robot for Combating COVID-19 Pandemic

This article was originally published here

IEEE Access. 2022 Mar 30;10:37613-37634. doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3163243. eCollection 2022.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, surface disinfection using prevailing chemical disinfection methods had several limitations. Due to cost-inefficiency and the inability to disinfect shaded places, static UVC lamps cannot address these limitations properly. Moreover, the average market price of the prevailing UVC robots is huge, approximately 55,165 USD. In this research firstly, a requirement elicitation study was conducted using a semi-structured interview approach to reveal the requirements to develop a cost-effective UVC robot. Secondly, a semi-autonomous robot named UVC-PURGE was developed based on the revealed requirements. Thirdly, a two-phased evaluation study was undertaken to validate the effectiveness of UVC-PURGE to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the capability of semi-autonomous navigation in the first phase and to evaluate the usability of the system through a hybrid approach of SUPR-Q forms and subjective evaluation of the user feedback in the second phase. Pre-treatment swab testing revealed the presence of both Gram-positive and Gram-Negative bacteria at 17 out of 20 test surfaces in the conducted tests. After the UVC irradiation of the robot, the microbial load was detected in only 2 (1D and 1H) out of 17 test surfaces with significant reductions (95.33% in 1D and 90.9% in 1H) of microbial load. Moreover, the usability evaluation yields an above-average SUPR-Q score of 81.91% with significant scores in all the criteria (usability, trust, loyalty, and appearance) and the number of positive themes from the subjective evaluation using thematic analysis is twice the number of negative themes. Additionally, compared with the prevailing UVC disinfection robots in the market, UVC-PURGE is cost-effective with a price of less than 800 USD. Moreover, small form factor along with the real time camera feedback in the developed system helps the user to navigate in congested places easily. The developed robot can be used in any indoor environment in this prevailing pandemic situation and it can also provide cost-effective disinfection in medical facilities against the long-term residual effect of COVID-19 in the post-pandemic era.

PMID:35582495 | PMC:PMC9088783 | DOI:10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3163243