ITS-Unair creates Covid-19 Sterilization Robot

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Robot Violeta tested in ITS Robotics Center Building, before being handed over to RSUA. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Surabaya – Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS), in collaboration with Airlangga University (Unair) through the Hospital of Airlangga University (RSUA) continues to produce innovative technology for dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). Currently, innovations is in the form of an Ultra Violet ITS–Unair robot, known as VIOLETA, to sterilize rooms of Covid-19 patients. 

ITS Vice Rector IV Bambang Pramujati, PhD, explained that the idea of creating this VIOLETA robot began when some ITS lecturers managed to research the use of ultraviolet rays (UV) to eliminate or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Another reason to create a robot is also to avoid physical exposure to UV rays, as they can be very dangerous to humans. 

“Therefore, ITS has innovated by creating this VIOLETA robot,” stated the vice rector of research, innovation, cooperation, and international relations, in a release received by Independent Observer, Friday (4/24/2020). 

The 1969-born lecturer explained, the way VIOLETA works is through UV lamps that are controlled through a remote wireless control. The Robot is effectively used at a distance of 1–2 meters from its target, and may take 10–15 minutes to sterilize thoroughly. 

Endarko, PhD, a VIOLETA research team member, added that in general, the UV lamps used by the remote control have a wavelength of 200–300 nanometer (nm). “In theory and practice, this wavelength range can kill microorganisms,” said this medical physicist. 

This Department of Physics lecturer also explained that the 30-watt UV lamp is in fact safer than using disinfectants, as there is no residue or residual chemicals left behind after the sterilization is completed. “However, the room must be empty when it’s being sterilized time,” he warned. 

As for the application to Covid-19 case, the VIOLETA robot has the benefit of being able to sterilize used isolation chambers or areas once used in handling Covid-19, without involving humans directly. “So, the security risk is also smaller,” said Endarko. 

Meanwhile, Achmad Zidan Akbar, one of the programmers of the VIOLETA robot team, explained how the robot, weighing in at 30 kilograms, uses the basic platform of the ITS football robot named IRIS, as used in previous RAISA robot units. What’s more, VIOLETA uses an inverter to convert the direct current of a battery into alternating current which will turn on the UV lamp. “This Robot can be used for 4–6 hours when the lamp is on,” explained the 2018 students from the Department of Informatics Engineering. 

At the end of the interview, Bambang also revealed that ITS will soon send its 1.5-metre-high VIOLETA robot to the RSUA, after a microbial test in the ITS Department of Biology laboratory. “In the meantime, ITS only gave one robot to RSUA, as this unit’s mobility is both fast and easy,” he concluded. (*/est)