A robot being developed by Blue Ocean Robotics uses ultraviolet light to disinfect rooms. The Danish company is targeting the product first at hospitals, where there's a high danger of patients contracting infections. In a 2011 study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said patients acquired 722,000 infections during treatment at health-care facilities in the U.S. that year and 75,000 of those patients died in the hospital.
It's a problem that Blue Ocean hopes to resolve with its UV disinfection robot. The robot uses large ultraviolet lamps to kill bacteria. Basically, it zaps the nucleic acids within bacteria and disrupts their DNA, making it impossible for them to reproduce and carry out essential life functions. Currently, cleaning hospital rooms is a very manual process, but because these bots are autonomous, they'll be able to go in and disinfect a room without much help from humans.
Blue Ocean Robotics is not the only company to come up with the idea of disinfecting robots. Xenex, in San Antonio, Texas, has its own version of a UV disinfection robot, as does Tru-D, based in Tennessee.
The disinfection robot is being tested in two hospitals in Denmark. According to John Erland Østergaard, co-CEO of Blue Ocean, it likely to be sold to medical facilities as a service rather than a hardware purchase.