As the country begins to reopen amid COVID-19, one potential way to limit the spread of the virus is by decontaminating surfaces in public spaces. Dr. Tomonari Furukawa — mechanical and aerospace engineering professor — and his team have developed a robot that aims to kill the novel coronavirus using ultraviolet light. This robot was designed to decontaminate whole rooms while under remote control.
Prior to COVID-19, Furukawa and his team designed a robot to enter an international robotics competition called the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge held in late February. The goal of the competition was to develop a robot that could respond to emergency situations, including locating and putting out a fire.
When COVID-19 emerged as a threat in the U.S. shortly after the competition ended, Furukawa moved quickly to modify the robot for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If people are suffering, the role of the University is really to improve the quality of life of people,” Furukawa said. “I didn’t care whether I was sponsored or anything — I just self-funded the project and we started to work at once.”