A robot capable of rapidly disinfecting large areas has been demonstrated as a way to help businesses navigate a safe route to opening, following lockdown. Forth Engineering, based in Cumbria, the UK, is known for its innovations in the fields of nuclear, oil and gas, renewables and other sectors, but the team has responded to the challenge of helping society find a safe way back from COVID-19 lockdown by developing a disinfecting robot.
The robot can be operated remotely, from a safe distance, to disinfect any area whether inside or outside, such as offices, warehouses, concert halls, transport hubs, schools, shopping complexes, and on the streets.
“We put together our tracked robot with a vapour cannon, camera and lights, and developed the first one in a matter of weeks,” said Forth managing director, Mark Telford. “It’s an amazing bit of kit. I took it to one of our sites and it disinfected 68,000ft² in just 20 minutes.”
The radio-controlled unit is wireless and tetherless, and can perform fogging or misting. “It works in a similar way to a vapour cigarette in that it fires high-pressure vapour, which will settle in every part of a designated area,” added Telford.
The robot also has the ability to climb flights of stairs and can disinfect large areas in a matter of minutes. The technology can also be adapted for a range of scenarios, such as being fitted with UV light, or other applications required to fight COVID-19.
The robot has now gone into production at Forth’s Maryport site, with nuclear site Sellafield having already placed an order for two decontamination fogging cannons. The company is testing the equipment at an off-site location in Cleator Moor to assess its potential to help with the safe and confident return to work of its workforce at a range of locations.
Forth is bucking the lockdown trend by expanding its offices with a £150,000 investment, and is actively recruiting for six roles: four mechanical/electrical engineers and two design engineers. The company employs 54 people across Cumbria in Maryport, Barrow and Cleator Moor.