Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Disinfection robots bypass coronavirus blockade

The first of a large order of disinfection robots to help combat coronavirus in hospitals has arrived in China.

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Thomas Midtgaard-Joergensen

There's a special delivery en route to hospitals in China: An army of disinfection robots being brought in to help fight COVID-19, more popularly known as the coronavirus.

The shipment was prompted after Sunay Healthcare Supply signed an agreement with Denmark-based UVD Robots. Travel restrictions have made getting medical equipment into China difficult for many companies, but UVD managed to ship the first of its robots last week and has plans to send a significant number of new robots to China in weeks ahead. 

"With this agreement, more than 2,000 hospitals will now have the opportunity to ensure effective disinfection, protecting both their patients and staff," says Su Yan, CEO of Sunay Healthcare Supply, a medical equipment supplier to the Chinese market.

UVD Robots is a portfolio company of Blue Ocean Robotics. Last year it won the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation (IERA), also known as "the Oscars of robotics," for its autonomous disinfecting technology. The technology uses concentrated UV-C light emitted by the robots as they drive. The UV light has a germicidal effect that removes virtually all airborne viruses and bacteria on the surfaces of a room and has been found effective on viruses similar to coronavirus.

The robots are available in over 40 countries, but as we reported earlier this month the coronavirus outbreak is causing fulfillment snags for various kinds of medical equipment, slowing delivery to hospitals that need them most. The logjam now seems to be breaking, and shipments of UVD's robots seem on track.

"In a severe crisis like this where the world health is threatened, our innovative technology really proves its worth," says CEO of UVD Robots, Per Juul Nielsen.

Sunay, which helped UVD successfully navigate the recent travel bans, has entered into a reseller agreement with UVD for exclusive rights to supply the Chinese market.