Leeds STV
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High-tech cleaning robots may soon arrive in Leeds to combat Covid-19

Trials have begun to test out cleaning robots across Leeds.

A research team including University of Leeds alumni have created the intelligent robots to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The robots use artificial intelligence to identify objects that need regular cleaning, spraying it with diluted alcohol if necessary.

Already, the robots have been tested in Leeds city centre and the lounges at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Dr Bilal Kaddouh, Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering, said: “The field tests have gone well. The robots were able to identify the objects that they needed to clean, and they were able to manoeuvre in the public spaces. The robotic arms effectively delivered the disinfectant onto the target surfaces.

“The next stage is to bring it all together and make it autonomous. That would result in the robots being able to map an area, identify what they need to clean, and then to go and get the job done.

“The aim is to get that autonomy developed over the next couple of months.”

Joanna Wild, chief commercial officer at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “As the airport safely re-opens, we will be seeing increasing numbers of people using our facilities.

“Our staff are working hard to keep the terminal as clean as possible, and we will consider using robots and other technological solutions if that helps our cleaners and members of the public remain COVID-19 safe. So far, we have seen that the robots can provide valuable support to our continued efforts in restarting operations.”

One of the robots operates on wheels and is capable of covering larger areas – the other has legs for working in more confined environments.

The robots have been developed by researchers involved in the Self-Repairing Cities project, a consortium involving the Universities of Leeds and Birmingham, and University College London.

Researchers on the project normally look at how robots can tackle infrastructure problems such as potholes, but changed gears in May to focus on ways robots could help tackle Covid-19.

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