January 31, 2023

The Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) has allocated P5.9 million for the development of a robot with ultraviolet-C light that can disinfect indoor spaces, its chief said.

The project aims to reduce the risks of using UV light by integrating intelligent features to the robot.

“While it is true that there are existing robots installed with UV light, most of these target only the floor. There are also existing robots with UV lamp installed on top, but the UV lamp shines the light in an uncontrolled fashion, making it a hazard for humans as UV-C can cause skin burns or eye injuries,” ASTI Director Franz de Leon said.

The project team, he said, is using a commercial off-the-shelf robot platform, and it is also the team who will program the platform’s intelligence and computer vision.

“For 2022, the expected deliverable is to perfect the intelligence for the navigation system. The robot should have the intelligence to avoid obstacles both in the horizontal and vertical planes. This means that the robot should avoid bumping objects, and even consider the vertical clearance given its payload,” de Leon said.

The complete system integration and optimization, and the development of the prototype will be in 2023, de Leon added.

He said the project started in 2020, with capacity building of the staff involved in designing autonomous robots. The project slowed down in 2021 because of the pandemic and restricted staff movement.

“The pandemic restricted the (project) development due to limited mobility of the staff, and was compounded by the global shortage of some electronic products,” said de Leon.

He added ASTI’s research and development budget for this project in 2022 is P910,000.

While the total budget for this project is P5.9M for 2020 to 2023, de Leon said the project team plans to secure external funding, if necessary.

The robot is being eyed for use in indoor common spaces such as offices, schools, commercial establishments. “As with other ASTI projects, the intellectual properties may be licensed for commercialization of the robot. The final price is yet to be determined, but the team intends to make the pricing point to be competitive in the market,” de Leon said. – PNA