A robotics company that created robots for social events has re-imagined its invention to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Service Robots.com was facing an uncertain future when the pandemic and the first national lockdown struck. It meant there was no longer a market for its Eva photography robot that could navigate events autonomously taking photos and printing pictures of guests.
With 21 staff furloughed, CEO Tim Warrington recalled a pre-pandemic conversation with one of his engineers about how a robot could be used to fight viruses and bacteria by emitting ultraviolet light (UVC).
The result was the UVC Helios robot – named after the god of the sun – that can remotely disinfect public spaces against COVID-19 and other bacteria.
Its success has led to the West Midlands-based firm winning the Artificial Intelligence Award only a few months after launch, at the latest National Business Awards UK sponsored by Lloyds Bank.
The judges said, “This entry was all about people skills, thinking outside the box and leaning on innovation to keep ahead of the competition.”
Warrington said, “We had a robot that could navigate on its own, a robot designed to do events. But why did it have to do events? What if we designed something different, to help the fight against COVID, to be useful at the current time? I set about how we basically put a sunbed on a robot. Proven technology but never combined together before.”
The first prototype was created in 14 days and with a sales platform quickly established the firm won its first order from the government of Bangladesh. Other orders quickly followed, including the US military in Germany.
Warrington added, “We had pivoted a company in a different direction in a small space of time when Covid-19 struck” “We are now pivoting out of lockdown which again will see a different company emerge with new products based on the new evolving business landscape that COVID-19 has created.
The new products we had to innovate, the work we had to do to survive.
The UK needs to grow as an industrious nation now. The chancellors budget, has in my opinion paved the way for innovation, production control and growth.
We need to look at the few positives and dust off the beating British business has had by a microscopic enemy, and forge a way forward. We are all in this, we have some of the best business minds, the best innovators in the world, British business can be stronger because of COVID-19.