Naval Hospitals Deploy Germ-Killing Robots Amid Pandemic


The tools are intended to provide an extra level of disinfection against COVID-19.

A U.S. military treatment facility is set to deploy a new, futuristic aid in its fight against the novel coronavirus: a germ-killing, ultraviolet light-emitting robot.

The Defense Department’s Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, this week announced it purchased and is gearing up to roll out the new device, which is outfitted with powerful, sanitizing light that can speedily neutralize pathogens like COVID-19 on any sort of surface. 

"Put as simply as possible, this machine is a safe way to disinfect a room in 5-10 minutes, greatly reducing the risk of nosocomial infections," Lt. Cmdr. Jason Carmichael, an infection prevention nurse at the naval hospital said in the announcement, referring to infections that are contracted within a specific environment.

Harnessing the sun’s power, ultraviolet light encompasses several different classifications. Of those, the facility’s new robot is equipped with what the release calls “a patented xenon light that artificially produces the ultraviolet C light,” which is known to counteract microorganisms that can cause diseases in as quickly as two minutes. 

Carmichael confirmed that the unit is presently going through the last stages of in-depth staff training, but will soon be fully implemented within the health system, where more than 60,000 military families are served.

The robot can be used throughout the facility—including in operating rooms and in areas where procedures are performed. It’s aimed to be unleashed in unoccupied rooms that incorporate certain steps to ensure safety, like setting up cones and warning signs. The robot also works in tandem with a motion detector, which will deactivate the tool if someone approaches or a movement is sensed as it runs. 

Officials also indicated that leveraging the asset will not mean less thorough, manual cleanings. The robot essentially provides another level of sanitation and safety.  

“Our house cleaning folks—who already do such a great job making sure we're preventing COVID-19 from spreading—clean the room and this machine is just an addition on top of that cleaning to help protect our patients and protect our staff," Lt. Cmdr. Candice West, a clinical nurse specialist at Naval Hospital Bremerton, said.

Last week, Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, which is located in Southern California, also revealed its recent purchase of two robotic units “that pulse high energy, broad spectrum UV light, to disinfect surface areas.” One official confirmed they’ve already made personnel feel safer.

The robots’ cost and vendors were not released.