A robot with ultraviolet C light capable of cleaning indoor spaces has received PHP 5.9 million from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI). The robot will have built-in intelligence features as part of the effort to reduce the risks associated with the use of UV radiation.

“While it is true that there are robots installed with UV light, most of them only target the ground. There are also robots equipped with UV lamps installed on the top, but the UV lamp does shine the light in an uncontrolled way, making it a danger to humans because UV-C can cause skin burns or eye damage,” says Franz de Leon, Director, ASTI.

The team behind the initiative will program the platform’s intelligence and computer vision on a commercially available robotic platform. The intelligence of the navigation system will be completed soon, according to the planned deliverable. The robot must be smart enough to avoid objects in the horizontal and vertical axes. This means that the robot must avoid bumping into objects and even consider the vertical clearance of its payload.

In 2023, the whole system will be integrated and optimized, and the prototype will be developed. The project started in 2020, with the aim of increasing the capacity of personnel involved in the design of autonomous robots. Due to the outbreak and restricted staff migration, progress has been delayed in 2021.

However, the pandemic has hampered the project’s development due to restricted employee mobility, which has been exacerbated by a global shortage of certain tech items. It was only this year that the project regained momentum. While the overall budget for this project from 2020 to 2023 is PHP 5.9 million. The project team aims to seek external funding if necessary.

The robot is envisioned for use in common indoor spaces such as offices, schools and commercial businesses. As with other ASTI initiatives, the robot’s intellectual assets may be licensed for commercialization. The ultimate price has not yet been determined, but the team hopes to establish a competitive price in the market.

At the same time, the development of employment and the use of science, technology and innovation (STI) to meet the many challenges facing the country are among the objectives of the new secretary for science and technology (DOST).

According to DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr., STI creates jobs while simultaneously promoting rural development. They also have the Science for Change program, which focuses on engaging R&D in DOST organizations and higher education institutions.

In terms of human resource development, DOST will continue to offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral scholarships, as well as fellowships at the Philippine Science High School. Additionally, the agency encourages graduates, masters and doctoral students to study entrepreneurship in addition to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, creative arts and agriculture. This will allow people to apply their knowledge and ideas in their work, which will boost industrial production.

DOST assists industries, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises, by funding STI activities and programs and counseling. She is also interested in issues such as food security and energy. Part of that is investigating plant growth boosters, which could help with crop production. This differs from fertilizers that can be applied to the soil in that they are sprayed on the leaves, which could lead to a 15-30% increase in rice production.

Healthy sourcing alternatives, such as using root crops and coconuts as flour replacements in bread, are also being explored. In terms of energy, he believes that renewable energies and increased energy storage are essential.

Besides fossil fuels, DOST said a battery can be used as an alternate mode of transportation, such as a hybrid road train, and wave energy can be used to power a ship.

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