(Photo: MTS TECH)

By: Jansel Jiménez Bulle

A promise to slow down the transmission of the Covid-19 has come to Mexico. It is neither a vaccine nor a medicine, but rather a robot.

It is called MTS UVC and was designed to disinfect spaces and prevent contagious diseases by emitting ultraviolet C light.

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It weighs 75 kilograms, and measures 90 x 60 x 150 cms; very similar to a grocery cart.

At its center, it has a vertical lamp that protrudes to a height of 150 cms. The lamp emits ultraviolet C (UVC) light that disinfects surfaces at a distance of up to three meters away.

It moves on its four wheels at a maximum speed of 1.5 meters per second, and the device is capable of effectively sterilizing 99.96% of the closed spaces within offices, factories and hospitals.

It is the first collaboratively-designed robot with this type of technology in Mexico. This invention has an external structure from Denmark and software which was developed a little over a year ago in Barcelona, Spain, by MTS Tech.

In an interview for Tec Review, Gabriel Isaías Urbina Sánchez, founder and CEO of NPI Molding Solutions, the company responsible for bringing the device to Mexico in early June, said, “It has certifications from the Clinical Hospital of Barcelona, which is ranked twenty-first in the world for being one of the best equipped hospitals, using the most technology and providing the best service.”

The UVC radiation emitted by the robot has a wavelength of between 100 and 280 nanometers, is invisible to the human eye, and penetrates the cell walls of bacteria, viruses and fungi, causing damage to their reproductive systems and, finally, their death.

This has been corroborated in the paper “UVC LED Irradiation Effectively Inactivates Aerosolized Viruses, Bacteria, and Fungi in a Chamber-Type Air Disinfection System”, published in 2018 by the American Society for Microbiology. The article, by Do-Kyun Kim, researcher at Seoul National University, South Korea, stated that, “treatment with a UVC LED matrix effectively deactivated the viral infection.”

UVC rays, which do not pass through transparent or opaque surfaces, are harmful to humans. For this reason, the robot must only work in places where there are no people present.

According to Urbina Sánchez, this is possible thanks to integrated software which allows for automated disinfection paths to be programmed.

“It’s a 100% autonomous robot, which does not involve any risks for users. Once it has mapped the area to be disinfected, it is assigned routes and can automatically do the entire cleaning program. When an unmapped object appears, it does not stop, but tries to dodge it,” he explains.

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The 35-year-old businessman, originally from Mexico City, explains that the robot costs 1.65 million pesos, and its lamp has a nine thousand hour useful life, although the manufacturer recommends that the light should be replaced after seven thousand hours of use since, after this point, its effectiveness decreases.

According to mtstech.com.mx, the product’s target market is divided into four sectors: transportation (subways, trains, planes, buses, cruise liners), industry (pharmaceutical, chemical, food, automotive, packaging, electronics), public health (hospitals, residences, medical offices, day centers) and leisure (shops, supermarkets, cinemas, shopping centers, schools).

However, Urbina says that his main objective is to offer the robot to the government, to be used in the disinfection of places where it is impossible to maintain the recommended safe distance to avoid transmission of the coronavirus. This could be subway cars or public buses. It would also decrease the time spent cleaning: from 45 minutes manually with disinfecting liquids to 15 minutes automatically with UVC radiation.

“The robot offers a solution to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Big cities like Shanghai and New York, where trains are already disinfected with this technology, provide examples of its effectiveness. I am sure that the more governments invest in this technology, the faster we can flatten the contagion curve,” concludes Urbina.

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