Image: LG

LG Electronics has created a new autonomous robot capable of disinfecting high-touch and high-traffic areas in hotels, classrooms, restaurants, and other businesses with nothing but UV-C light. Similar in principle to phone sanitizers marketed to consumers, the UV-C light that both the LG bot and phone cleaning devices emit is known to kill a wide range of bacteria and germs. The FDA states that UV-C is also capable of destroying the protein shell on some viruses, including some forms of the coronavirus, asserting that it “may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

“A higher level of disinfection is going to become the new customer expectation in the new contactless economy where we now all live, work, learn, and play,” said LG Business Solutions USA vice president Michael Kosla.

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The LG UV-C sanitizing robot will be officially unveiled at Digital CES 2021 and will go on sale later in the year. LG said it will enable a “new standard of hygiene” once it comes to market because of its autonomous design and availability to be monitored via smartphone or tablet. LG said it’s also designed to be easy to operate and won’t require extensive staff training to get it up and running. The robot can clean a room in 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the space, and LG said it will be capable of cleaning multiple areas on a single charge.

According to the FDA, UV-C radiation can be used to sanitize air, water, and non-porous surfaces, but in order to be effective at sanitizing a space UV-C lights have to be strong. The FDA mentioned reports of individuals exposed to cleaning-strength UV-C lights experiencing burns and eye damage, and if the LG robot is effective it will have to have lights of that strength.

To counter the UV-C exposure threat, LG outfitted its robot with motion sensors functional in a 16-foot radius that will shut the machine down when a human gets too close. The robot also has an emergency stop button and can be shut down via its mobile control app.

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“Whether it’s hotel guests, students in classrooms or patrons of restaurants and other businesses, they can rest assured that the LG autonomous UV robot will help reduce their exposure to harmful bacteria and germs,” Kosla said. “We hope LG’s first UV disseminating robot will give our customers, and in turn their customers, peace of mind.”

LG described the new UV-C robot as the first in a series of new entries in its LG CLOi line of autonomous robots for 2021, but made no mention of what other devices may be revealed at CES 2021 or beyond.