This project was developed in collaboration with Ian Vernooy for the 2019 Senior Division GCRSEF. It received the second honorable mention and moved on to the STANYS Science Fair later that year.
The CDC estimates that 1 out of 31 hospital patients is being treated for an illness they acquired in a hospital. Not only does this amount to a staggering quantity of wasted resources, it can sometimes lead to the loss of human life. In fact, in the U.S. alone, 2 million people are infected and nearly 100,000 people die each year from these diseases. To make matters worse, the infections found in hospitals are often the most deadly, leading to the spread and development of superbugs, untreatable by common medicine.
One potential transfer of infection is the patient room itself. In between patients, hospitals use people to disinfect the areas where disease is most likely to transfer. These high touch areas are traditionally cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide solution to destroy bacteria and viruses. While this practice saves lives every day, it could be made more effective with the addition of an automated system to clean the highest touch areas. Additionally, such a solution could save costs for hospitals.
We have developed a device that operates along a defined path in a patient room, using a alcohol mister and UV lamp to kill pathogens in high touch areas such as light switches, doorknobs, beds and more.
The device was able to perform each of its individual goals well. The robot can determine its angle and position relative to a tape line on the ground, and use this to correct its course. Additionally, it can move its gantry, mist alcohol and use its UV light. However some implementation flaws do need to be worked out before the robot is ready for deployment at scale. The navigation system is the main weak point, but with further software development, the system as a whole could function very well.