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R2-D2 look-alike helps clean hospital rooms of superbugs13th of February 2013
A robot claimed to have a passing resemblance to the R2-D2 character from the Star Wars films is taking on hospital superbugs in the US and Canada.
The Xenex Robot System emits short blasts of high-powered ultraviolet light which is said to be able to eradicate lethal pathogens from healthcare surfaces and environments including hospital beds, washrooms and intensive care units.
Invented in Canada by Xenex's chief scientific officer Mark Stibich, the system is currently being used in around 100 US facilities. It is claimed to be effective against a range of superbugs including C. difficile, MRSA and VRE.
"In independent studies we have seen reductions of 50 per cent or more in hospital-acquired infection rates - and it can be used in every area of the hospital, 24 hours a day," says Stibich.
The robot needs to be used in empty rooms and wards due to the brightness of its ultraviolet blasts. Cleaning staff wheel the unit into vacated rooms where it pulses millisecond blasts of UV-3 light while lifting and dipping its "head".
The device is said to be able to penetrate any crevice where germs may lurk and the light robs the organisms of their ability to replicate, which means they are no longer infectious.
The UV light, which is produced by a xenon gas-fired lamp, obliterates the walls of single-celled organisms for a faster kill, according to Stibich. The Xenex Robot System is designed to be used in conjunction with traditional bleach cleaning and will soon be piloted in hospitals in Ontario, Canada.