Targeted and safe disinfection
Compared to available robot solutions on the market, DeKonBot has a few different features. On the one hand, it cleans relevant surfaces in a targeted and direct manner and does not spray the disinfectant over large areas in the room like some other robots. This not only saves on disinfectants and time because the surface to be cleaned is limited to the essentials, but also prevents hazards such as slipping on damp surfaces or inhaling potentially harmful chemicals. On the other hand, DeKonBot can be used safely in the presence of people. For safety reasons, disinfection robots that use UV rays to kill viruses, for example, require an environment where no people are present.
In order for DeKonBot to work successfully, it is initially trained in its new operating environment with the help of a tablet that can be operated without expert robotics knowledge. First of all, the member of operating staff navigates the robot once through the environment, during which it independently creates a map of its operating environment. In addition, the user “shows” the robot the objects to be cleaned and the cleaning movement to be performed: For this purpose, the user guides the robot arm with the disinfection tool to the door handle, for example, and moves the tool as required to clean it. The robot saves the path and is subsequently able to repeat it independently.
The objects to be cleaned are currently still recognized by means of so-called “tags”, i.e. small, black-and-white labels. The robot positions itself relative to these tags. In the future, tags will no longer be needed. Instead, methods recently developed at Fraunhofer IPA will be used, which on the one hand enable these objects to be automatically recognized in camera data. On the other hand, a new 3D sensor, which was developed in the course of the project, recognizes the objects to be cleaned and their position in the room better than other sensors available on the market, even if these objects have a metallic, reflective surface.