Competing UVC Cleaning Robots Show the Need for Prevention, Not Reaction

TekLight, MIT and Amazon are all working on their own autonomous cleaning technology

UVD Robots work after hours to disinfect large spaces.
Headshot of Kaila Mathis

UVC light is growing in popularity as a means to not only kill viruses such as Covid-19 but also prevent future widespread infection.

As president of TekClean, an Atlanta-based company that provides disinfection services for data centers in the Southeastern U.S., Duncan Scott decided when the pandemic hit that it was time to find a better solution for disinfecting all kinds of large spaces.

So he founded TekLight, which has teamed up with Uchimura Robotics to resell UVD Robots, a Danish mobile device that uses UVC light to kill bacteria in hospitals, office buildings, gymnasiums and other large areas with frequent activity. The technology is proven, and such robots are already being utilized in over 40 countries throughout Asia, Europe and the United States to counteract the spread of Covid-19.

A study conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital shows UVC light devices reduced bacterial colonies by 100% when used 3 feet from the samples for 5 minutes.

Scott aims to bring these products into more American hospitals, along with schools, office buildings, food production facilities, clinics—anywhere with a high risk of infection spread.

TekLight’s efforts to bring UVD Robots into more commercial spaces comes as MIT and Ava Robotics are developing a similar device. Amazon has also developed its own roving UV light-emitting robot, which is in use at Whole Foods stores and Amazon warehouses.

One advantage that makes robots safer and more effective than traditional methods, according to Scott, is they don’t use any chemicals.

“Most cleaning products require a contact time of 4 to 10 minutes before being wiped off to truly disinfect a surface,” Scott said. “The time it would take to allow cleaning products to sit this long when cleaning an entire office building or hospital is unrealistic.”

Robots also do their work when people are not inside the building. This both avoids interrupting workers and addresses customer concerns about traditional cleaning products, which can pose health risks when inhaled.

Scott believes this technology sheds light on a larger issue that has emerged since the start of the pandemic.

We learned what happens when we simply react,” he said. “Innovation now can ensure we prevent the spread of infection in the future, before it becomes a widespread health issue.”

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Kaila is an intern for Adweek in the Brand Marketing Department, and covers news in brand marketing and retail. She is a rising senior at Villanova University pursuing a degree in PR & Advertising and Journalism.