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NGen invests $5 million into manufacturing of disinfection robots

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the industry-led organization leading Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, is co-investing $5 million in projects leading to the development and production in Canada of automated hands-free disinfection technologies to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Five outstanding projects have been selected for funding under NGen’s Disinfection Robot Challenge. With matching contributions from industry, total value of these projects will exceed $10 million.

In April NGen challenged companies to develop innovative robotic solutions that would reduce the number of healthcare associated infections to protect the safety of both patients and healthcare workers, or that would disinfect private spaces and facilities so that businesses could bring employees back to work in a safe and sanitized environment.

In order to qualify for funding, projects were expected to have a fast turnaround, demonstrating an impact on Covid-19 within six months. NGen received 34 expressions of interest and 19 proposals from innovative companies across Canada.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented Canada with many challenges, but it has also highlighted the very best Canadians have to offer.

“At an unprecedented time, Canadian manufacturers, supported by organizations such as NGen, have developed innovative, Made in Canada technologies that will save lives and benefit Canadians now and into the future.”

Jayson Myers, CEO, NGen, says: “Canada has an opportunity to be a world leader in developing and producing large scale disinfecting solutions based on our outstanding advanced manufacturing capabilities.

“Disinfection robots have been deployed successfully in other countries and are showing promising results in terms of reducing the spread of Covid-19 as well as other infectious diseases.

“Scaling up these capabilities in Canada will spark an entirely new ecosystem around advanced robotic disinfection, creating new business opportunities, jobs and knowledge, and above all anchoring more manufacturing here at home.”

The five projects that were selected for funding a panel of independent experts are listed below.

A&K Robotics, based in Vancouver, BC, with its partner, Sanctuary AI, will develop and rapidly bring to market Amrud, a self-driving robot capable of autonomously disinfecting large areas of floor spaces and high-touch surfaces.

Matthew Anderson, CEO, A&K Robotics, says, “Amrud will assist frontline workers (medical and other) in the fight against Covid-19, make our workplaces and schools sufficiently safe to allow workers and students to return safely back to their jobs and studies, and help prevent other pandemics from breaking out in the future.”

AIS – Advanced Intelligence Systems based in Burnaby, British Columbia, will produce a robot that will map large-scale environments such as hospitals, navigate to interest points, and perform hands-free UV disinfection without requiring human intervention.

AIS was awarded $975,615 from NGen Canada to develop this made-in-Canada mobile robot. The grant represents 50 per cent of the total project cost of $1.95 million.

Afshin Doust, CEO, AIS, says: “We strongly believe this project will be instrumental in supporting hospitals, elderly homes and healthcare workers to manage resources more effectively during and in the post-Covid-19 pandemic.

“AIS plans to incorporate more of its robotics modules in the future to cater its disinfection, surveillance and detection capabilities to restaurants, offices, warehouses, and manufacturing plants.”

CrossWing, based in Aurora, ON, which will manufacture Cleanbot UV and Cleanbot MIST, two next-generation robots that overcome serious limitations of first-generation disinfecting systems. Cleanbot UV will allow for the targeted delivery of UV light to where it is critically needed.

Cleanbot MIST will deliver a precisely measured spray dose to all common pathogen hotspots.

Stephen Sutherland, CEO, CrossWing, says: “CrossWing has been able to leverage our expertise in robotics and automated systems to deliver a fully autonomous solution to help fight the spread of Covid-19 and other pathogens.”

GlobalDWS, based in Toronto, ON, which will develop GlobalDWS’ Disinfection Service Robot (DSR). DSR is a fully autonomous, voice-enabled service robotic platform with advanced cognitive capabilities.

This innovative solution is equipped with an intelligent Covid-19 assistant, disinfectant sprayer, and UV-C light functionality to provide a comprehensive disinfection solution for essential businesses and public workplaces.

Rami Wehbe, co-founder and CTO, GlobalDWS, says: “The DSR combines a two-barrier disinfection solution to ensure all high-touch and high-risk areas receive adequate and consistent doses of disinfectants through an intelligent robotic platform.

“This innovative solution will support the lifelong paradigm shift our communities need as we transition to the new future of private and public place sanitization.”

Prescientx, based in Cambridge, ON, will develop and deploy a fleet of self-driving mobile robotic vehicles integrated with an UltraViolet (UV) light disinfection system to quickly and continuously sanitize essential workplaces, protecting workers against Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

The solution will combine Prescientx’s patent-pending targeted CoolDose UVC technology with Clearpath Robotics’ Otto autonomous mobile robot platform.

Barry Hunt, president and CEO, Prescientx, says: “The first wave of mobile UV light-emitting vehicles will be deployed immediately in controlled-access healthcare settings.

“A second wave of vehicles is targeted for essential workplaces and manufacturing environments to sanitize medical and food supply chains, decontaminate busy warehouse operations and disinfect assembly lines between shifts.

“Otto robots are already being used in these settings to move materials.”

Challenging manufacturers 

The Disinfection Robot Challenge is one of many challenges NGen plans to issue in support of economic recovery. NGen recently launched its Made Smarter Strategic Supply Challenge.

The competition challenges manufacturers to build sustainable, cost competitive supply capabilities in Canada of products that are essential in the fight against Covid-19. NGen will invest over $15 million in these projects.

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