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Violet disinfectant robot
Violetvia Instagram/@world.of.robots

A robot has been developed to fight coronavirus with UV light

The aptly-named Violet, designed by roboticists in Dublin, can work alongside healthcare workers to help prevent the spread of the virus

Among other, less positive things, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the rapid development and implementation of new technologies to help contain the virus and potentially others like it.

So far, these have included a PPE rave suit (for when the URL dancefloor isn’t quite hitting the spot) and AI smart glasses, which have been used to detect people with a fever in China (though they’re not always 100% accurate). Now, the Robotics and Innovation Lab at Trinity College Dublin has also contributed to the list, with a “disinfectant robot”.

Aptly named Violet, the robot uses UV-C light to help prevent the spread of the virus. “What happens when it hits a microorganism is that it kind of infects its DNA,” says Conor McGinn, a roboticist and professor at Trinity, speaking to Time. “In particular it stops being able to reproduce.”

“That’s really important for trying to kill an infectious germ, because if it can’t reproduce it’s no longer infectious.”

While other robots utilising ultraviolet light have been developed to fight the virus across the world, they often require humans to leave the room during the disinfecting process, as the light can be harmful to the skin and eyes. 

Violet, however, has built-in features that shield humans from harmful effects, meaning that it can coexist easily alongside healthcare workers, or those that are particularly at-risk such as care home residents (whose susceptibility to infections inspired the lab’s previous robots).

Potentially, Violet could also be implemented in other areas such as public transport, to help contain coronavirus and, hopefully, return life to normal a bit quicker. Watch McGinn discuss the project’s development in the video below.