What Are Disinfection Robots and Should You Purchase One?

Featured Image Disinfection Robots

What could be a symbolic image of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis? For many, it’s a striking visual of empty cities with autonomous robots quietly going about their business of sanitizing the streets.

Apart from hospitals and public spaces, there has been a recent rise in the use of disinfection robots in the home. This guide walks through various disinfection robots and whether it’s the right time to purchase one. For those who intend to travel, our recommended products make good portable companions.

Disinfection Robots by Product Types

Depending on the cleansing mechanism, there are different categories of disinfection robots available in the market. They are being sold under various names: bacteria-killing robots, germicidal robots, sterilizing robots, and so forth. While they all might be using different technologies, they can be broadly classified into the following types:

UV disinfection (UV-D) robots

These robots release strong UV rays to kill germs and viruses as they crawl on the floor, under bed mattresses, and across the furniture. Cleansebot was one of the first UV disinfection (UV-D) robots on the market, claiming to kill 99.9 percent of germs using ultra-violet light.

Disinfecting Robots Cleansebot

It is necessary to know the difference between these UV-D robots and robot vacuum cleaners. Although both depict hands-free cleaning, the latter use suction pumps and dustbin filters with similar aims as conventional vacuum cleaners. A UV-D robot goes much further: it sterilizes the surroundings at a microscopic level.

Hydrogen peroxide vaporizing robots

Vaporized hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is growing in popularity for disinfection commercially, as even the most resistant viruses at room temperature and low concentrations can be sterilized using this chemical. The robots release hydrogen peroxide vapors as they crawl and are favored in hospitals, large establishments, hotels, and medical facilities.

Disinfecting Robots Vaporizing Hydrogen Peroxide Dispensers

While most of the vaporizing products are more expensive than UV-D robots, they are very effective in dealing with biocontamination.

Other robots

There are a few other kinds of robots, such as the ones which work as hand sanitizer dispensers. They squirt sanitizer with some kind of touch-free mechanism, for example, using proximity sensors. One of the examples is of this school project in Taiwan. While no commercial applications exist right now, these hand sanitizer dispensers will definitely grow in popularity in the near future.

Disinfecting Robots Hands Free Sanitizer

Should I Purchase a Disinfection Robot?

Not all disinfection robots are for personal use at the moment, although some UV-D product are already available for purchase. Depending on your need now and in the future, they are definitely worth a consideration. The following disinfection robot products (both UV-D types) are immediately available on their respective sites.

Cleansebot 2.0

Cleansebot uses four UV-C lamps to clean for a three-hour running time under any surface. It takes four hours to charge the device. The product is currently available at a steep discount of $99.99, has a limited stock and comes with free worldwide shipping.

Disinfecting Robots Cleansebot2

Rockubot

Rockubot’s feature specifications list releasing UV-C light at 4050μW/cm² and a claim it can kill 99.99% bacteria & germs. It can be used to kill bed bugs, mites, and infections causing asthma, rhinitis, and other problems. It is currently available in a travel light and music mode, with starting prices of $149.95. A further 10-percent discount is available for online purchase on the site.

Disinfecting Robots Rockubot

Note: disinfection robots represent a very upcoming technology, and some of the products are being sold out faster due to current high demand. More brands and products are expected to hit the market.

There is no doubt that some of these disinfection robots are gaining rapid usage in personal homes. Would you buy one? Please let us know in the comments.

Sayak Boral Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over ten years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

10 comments

  1. Do you have details about dangers to human dna of using UVC? I’m also of the understanding that UVC can burn your skin (quickly receive heavy sunburn) and similarly damage eyes.

    1. Here’s a scientific report published in Nature journal which suggests that “continuous low doses of far UV-C light” can kill bacteria and flu viruses without harming mammalian tissues.
      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21058-w

      1. Not sure this applies to the UVC devices in the MTE article. For example the looking at the data provided for the Cleansebot 2.0, it states it operates at 254-nm. Not the supposedly safer 222-nm of your linked article.

        To be clear I had not known of “far-UVC” before but since at least one of the devices promoted in the MTE article operates at 254-nm (potentially unsafe, see below), I shall not be using them.

        Note your linked article states:

        “… the efficacy of far-UVC 222-nm light for inactivating airborne viruses carried by aerosols – with the goal of providing a potentially safe alternative to conventional 254-nm germicidal lamps to inactivate airborne microbes.”

      2. Not sure this applies to the UVC devices in the MTE article. For example the looking at the data provided for the Cleansebot 2.0 abd also the Rockubot, it states they both operate at 254-nm. Not the supposedly safer 222-nm of your linked article.

        To be clear I had not known of “far-UVC” before but since both of the devices promoted in the MTE article operate at 254-nm (potentially unsafe, see below), I shall not be using them.

        Note your linked article states:

        “… the efficacy of far-UVC 222-nm light for inactivating airborne viruses carried by aerosols – with the goal of providing a potentially safe alternative to conventional 254-nm germicidal lamps to inactivate airborne microbes.”

    2. Hi Graham

      Those are valid safety concerns but UV-C lamps have been used worldwide in hospitals, especially in the last few weeks. Due to their germicidal property, they are also used in water treatment, laboratory hygiene, pathogen reduction in food, etc. These products have to be designed as per healthcare code, which means our human bodies can tolerate these lights within a certain “threshold limit value.” Any standard design considerations will take health and safety aspects into account.

  2. I take on board your info but wanted to investigate further so tracked down and looked at the following document issued on behalf of the European Commission, by the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER)

    https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/scientific_committees/scheer/docs/scheer_o_002.pdf

    I refer you specifically to their official opinion on page 13.

    My summary (which you might argue with) is this:

    Not enough studies have been carried out under normal use.
    Most data is from accidental misuse of apparatus.
    DNA damage by UV-C radiation is well documented.
    UVC is considered to be carcinogenic to humans. However, currently available data does not allow quantitative cancer risk
    assessment of exposure from UV-C lamps. That’s comforting!
    Due to the mode of action, no limit value of either irradiance or dose (irradiance multiplied by time of exposure) exists to ensure protection from long-term effects to eyes and skin.
    Ozone may be produced from UV-C lamps emitting UV-C at wavelengths shorter than
    240 nm. That therefore includes far-UVC at 222nm.
    Exposure to ozone, above safety threshold levels, presents a risk of a variety of symptoms and diseases associated with the respiratory tract, particularly in sensitive individuals. What safety thresholds exist or are declared for these devices?

    Manufacturers may sell these products, but in my opinion having looked ‘lightly’ at this topic, their use outside of a stringently enforced protocol, to kill bacteria in a hospital or in industry to clean up a water supply, is not something I would do or recommend.

    1. Thanks for the report. Perhaps there is another study that might interest you: it is based on 254 nm UV. Ideally I would prefer a far UVC product but even a 254 nm UV robot designed for consumer applications is relatively safe.

      https://www.americanairandwater.com/uv-facts/UV-Safety-Study.pdf

      Refer page 52.

      “Conclusions. These findings demonstrate that careful application of upper room UVGI can be achieved without an apparent increase in the incidence of the most common side effects of accidental UV overexposure.”

      Also, from page 54:-

      “and until quite recently, this threshold value (TLV) was interpreted as if eye exposure in rooms was CONTINUOUS OVER EIGHT HOURS and at the highest eye-level irradiance found in the room. In those “highly unlikely” conditions….”

      The watchword is continuous exposure over many hours. The autonomous UV-D robots work independently and there is very less direct exposure based on the usage guidelines videos which you can find on the respective sites. Also, these consumer products are tinier in size/radiation levels compared to industrial scale UV-C lamps.

      Only the manufacturers can guide us further on HSE aspects which they follow. But I feel as there are stringent regulatory standards that govern their size, threshold values, etc., the products are harmless for regular use.

      1. Seriously Sayak? You are ok with comparing a single study against that of the European Commissions, SCHEER (Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks), Opinion on Biological effects of UV-C radiation relevant to health with particular reference to UV-C lamps?

        Your americanairandwater studies lead author recently co-authored the study “Far-UVC light prevents MRSA infection of superficial wounds in vivo”. The conclusions:
        Being safe for patient and hospital staff, our results suggested that far-UVC light (222 nm) might be a convenient approach to prevent transmission of drug-resistant infectious agents in the clinical setting.
        Note specifically the use of words ‘suggested and ‘might’. Not very inspiring!

        I will make my opinions based on the SCHEER report rather than the one above that you appear hold so much faith in. I prefer not to Risk my health on this technology in a domestic setting.

        A final comment from me on this topic. I do not trust manufacturers to do anything but ‘jump on the technology bandwagon’ before the science is fully understood and potential risks mitigated.

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