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UV-wielding robots may be the answer to ridding hospitals of Covid-19

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – The world continues to scramble and find ways to detect and disinfect itself of coronavirus. Many of these approaches mix pre-established principles with novel tech.

In Mexico, Juan Sossa Azuela, a researcher from the National Polytechnic Institute is working to create robots to sanitize hospitals where Covid-19 patients can be found using ultraviolet (UV) light.

Azuela’s robo-cleaner will theoretically reduce the risk of human exposure to the baddest bug of the century (so far). But there are other functions it’s being designed to do as well.

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UV light joins the fight against coronavirus

Some science-related background: There are three different classes of UV light: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C (most of which comes from the sun). The first two types hurt human skin and overexposure can lead to sunburns and early wrinkling. 

But today we’ll be focusing on type C—the most damaging of the three. The good news is Earth’s atmosphere absorbs it so we aren’t actually exposed to it so as to endanger us.

“Light” applications: UV-C has been previously used to disinfect surfaces. Its ability to do so has been attributed to the radiation waves being strong enough to annihilate the genetic material of bacteria and viruses. This disinfection method is known as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation—a real mouthful.

Although it’s worth keeping in mind that up until the writing of this article, there’s been no official study or report that demonstrates that UV light kills Covid-19. But applying UV light has been generating buzz because of previous disinfecting applications.

Robots to the rescue?

In any case, Azuela’s robot wants to do what your run-of-the-mill Roomba can’t. Besides shining a light on Covid-19, Azuela has other functions in mind that the bot could perform. Examples include monitoring patients and providing medicine to the sick in hospital wards.

In many parts of Latin America bots may present a strange sight, certainly. But there are an increasing number of startups working with them to reduce person-to-person contact.

Food delivery unicorn Rappi began piloting with delivery bots in mid-April. Meanwhile Mexican Roomie IT is creating robots to screen through patients’ symptoms at clinics.

Lifesavers, sure, but there’s still the ever-present question: is Covid-19 going to accelerate the displacement of humans in these roles?

Related articles: Tech and startups from Mexico!

-ML

Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.

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