Violet robot deployed in midlands hospital to help wipe out Covid-19

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Covid-19  coronavirus

Violet wipe virus off CT scanner in Tullammore

The roboticis team at Trinity College Dublin  have developed a robot they call Violet to help tackle Covid-19 at Portlaoise hospital's sister facility in Tullamore.

TCD say Violet has been designed by a team led by Conor McGinn, assistant professor in Trinity’s School of Engineering and co-founder of spinout company Akara Robotics.

The college says Violet is portable and compact device that operates in tight, crowded spaces that are otherwise hard to clean. These include such as bathrooms, waiting areas, and the nooks and crannies of public transit.

The university says that with support from the HSE, the Violet team has tested the robot at Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore, where they conducted tests in radiology treatment rooms presently being used to treat COVID-19 patients in need of diagnostic medical imagery.

The robot makes a big difference during a pandemic says TCD because infection control procedures mandate significant waiting periods after COVID patients undergo radiology scans, leading to significant reduction in hospital workflow.

Speaking to Techtalk on Newstalk radio Mr McGinn compared the impact Violet has on the virus and other bugs to what the damage the sun can do to skin in the shape of sunburn.

He praised the HSE for helping develop the device to a point where he believes it can be produced commercially. There is hope that it could be valuable to nursing homes and other care settings.

The device was initially deployed in Offaly 2020. 

TCD says Violet doesn’t only work on coronavirus. The UV-C irradiation it emits has also shown to be effective on superbugs including MRSA, and C. difficile, among others. 

It also has a protective shield around the back of the light, and motion-detecting sensors so that people don’t have to vacate the area while it’s at work.

Trinity say the project has involved close collaboration with Dr Michael Beckett, postdoctoral research fellow in Trinity’s Department of Microbiology, who has been responsible for the clinical testing and validation of the technology.