Amazon testing UV-emitting disinfection robots

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Amazon is developing a robot designed to kill the novel coronavirus with ultraviolet light.

Assembled from a high metal frame attached to a rectangular movable bottom, one side of the robot is equipped with at least 10 ultraviolet lamps.

According to the online retail giant, the innovation could one day be rolled out in warehouses and in Whole Foods stores to kill the virus in food, packaging, and door handles.

“We have great ideas coming from all areas of the company,” said Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish.

“Our Robotics group in particular has become an R&D lab for Covid-19 innovation — first using machine learning to detect social distancing opportunities in our building, to now beginning to design and test disinfecting with mobile ultraviolet sanitation.”

Researchers at Columbia University have already tested the effectiveness of far-ultraviolet light against the new coronavirus.

In a video shared with CBS News’ 60 Minutes, the robot rolls down the freezer aisle of a Whole Foods store, aiming UV light at the freezer doors

According to the University’s Center for Radiological Research, this type of radiation can kill viruses without harming humans.

If preliminary tests are successful and the device is recognised to be effective, then scientists will implement it to disinfect surfaces and air.

Amazon estimates installing lighting products in a medium-sized store can cost about US$100,000 (£82,000), whereas a compact robot, which is designed be just as effective, will cost several times cheaper.

Kish added: “While these mobile units are not currently being used in any Amazon or Whole Foods Market locations, we’re excited about the possibilities and will continue to innovate to ensure that we are supporting our employees, customers, and communities.”

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