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Germ-Zapping Robot Keeps Hospitals Safe

Since its introduction, Mark Stibich’s disinfecting robot  has been earning comparisons to R2-D2, to which it vaguely resembles.

But that wouldn’t be doing the wheel-clad bot justice. These robots, which are appropriately given names like “Violet” and “Ray”, keep hospitals safe from microscopic minions by smiting them with ultra-violet rays.

Robots are operated  with the use of a remote. Upon command, UV light,  which is created as electricity is run through xenon gas, flashes for 5 to 10 minutes as the robot rotates it’s “head” to scan the room.

The robots can effectively wipe out hospital-acquired infections, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Many of these infections manifest from super bugs that can remain in hospital rooms for up to six months, and that’s after receiving a standard cleaning. It has also been found that only 50 percent of surfaces are sanitized after a patient has been discharged.

The reason these bugs linger are in part due to the resistance they’ve built up to traditional chemical cleaning agents. Despite their immeasurably minute size, super bug related infections contribute to around 100,000 deaths per year.

Initially inspired by a “pulsed xenon UV lamp” in Russia, used to kill airborne tuberculosis germs, Stibich and his wife became co-founders of the Xenex-Healthcare Service in Texas. The Xenex robots clean virtually every surface, and have been proven effective in killing 95 percent of deadly pathogen C. difficile. As well as cutting bacterial contamination by a factor of twenty. All this without the use of toxic gases. It is even safe enough to disinfect food.

The robots are being used in over 100 hospitals and counting. They can be bought for a steep but justified $125,000 or monthly installments of $3,700. The prices aren’t so significant when you take into account that each infection can easily cost a hospital upwards of $30,000. In addition to defending patients, the robots are used to clean common areas and facilities.

Image: Ben Aqua for Bloomberg Businessweek

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