ASTI allocates P5.9 for indoor robot disinfectors

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.

ASTI Director Franz de Leon  said the project aims to reduce the risks of using UV light by integrating intelligent features into the robot.

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

He said their project team uses a commercial off-the-shelf robot platform, the intelligence and computer vision of which they program themselves.

De Leon said their expected deliverable this year is the perfection of the robot’s intelligence navigation system. “The robot should have the intelligence to avoid obstacles both in the horizontal and vertical planes. This means the robot should avoid bumping objects, and even consider the vertical clearance given its payload,” he shared, adding that the complete system integration and optimization, and the development of the prototype will be in 2023.”

The project, he said, was started in 2020, with capacity-building of the staff involved in designing autonomous robots, but it slowed down in 2021 because of the pandemic that 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,” he explained.

De Leon said the projects only picked-up again recently, and ASTI’s 2022 budget for research and development for it this year is P910,000.

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

De Leon said robot they are working on is eyed for use in indoor common spaces such as commercial establishments, offices, and  schools.

“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,” he assured.