Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab have developed a novel method of providing sterilising ultraviolet light radiation in a wide variety of environments by harnessing the versatility of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The project is led by NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Dr Ted Vaughan, with Dr Kevin Johnson from the University of Limerick.
As the world recovers from the first surge of COVID-19, there is a real need for a novel and versatile solutions to sanitise the wide terrain variety of public places. These include hospital wards, restaurants, trains, buses, planes, shopping centres, airport terminals, restrooms, amongst other. To help combat this issue the research team have developed @UVCDrone which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilise surfaces. UV light (10-400 nm) is not visible to the human eye and is divided into three bands UVA, UVB and UVC. The @UVCDrone uses UVC (100-280nm) which is high frequency, short wavelength radiation that can destroy the genetic material of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and thereby providing the ability to sterilise surfaces. Its germicidal action has been used for decades in water, air, laboratory and medical applications.
Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “We need innovative solutions to fight COVID-19 and our @UVCDrone solution allows the delivery of sterilising ultraviolet light to a wide variety of public space landscapes from staircases to shop floors.”
UVC light is harmful to humans, so the @UVCDrone delivers the UVC light when the public space is unoccupied, such as at night time. The drone is programmed to switch on at a pre-defined time, autonomously fly around the public space using a bespoke AI algorithm and when finished cleaning, land again for recharging.
Prof Derek O’Keeffe holds dual first class honours degrees in Engineering and Medicine as well as a Masters and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Limerick and NUIG. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard and is a graduate of the Endocrinology Clinical Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, USA. As well as multiple academic publications, he holds two biomedical patents and several international research prizes. He was awarded The Outstanding Young Person of the World by JCI. He is a Black Belt Taekwondo Instructor, Qualified Pilot & Advanced Scuba Diver. He works as a Consultant Endocrinologist at UHG and is the Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUIG.