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Ubtech's Adibot looks drastically different than the company's pastmodels. Between the yoga-loving and the soccer-playing , I'm used to seeing them show off helpful humanoid bots aimed at consumers. The Adibot forgoes the friendly face and tries to solve the problem of the times -- it's a giant, cylindrical beast with the sole purpose of disinfecting rooms with UVC light.
The Adibot is primarily aimed at small businesses and schools. Ubtech is rolling out two models this year. The Adibot-S is the stationary model designed to be manually wheeled from room to room. It will be ready to go in January and will cost a hefty $20,000. The upgraded Adibot-A can pilot autonomously using a Lidar sensor. It will retail for twice as much at $40,000 and launch in May.
Again, Ubtech isn't really pitching these giant, expensive machines to consumers. The company wants to help out institutions that can't otherwise afford industrial disinfecting bots that can run more than $100,000. The company claims its bot is capable of hospital-grade disinfection and can clean a 900 to 1,000-square-foot room in 70 to 100 seconds.
I got a chance to see the stationary model in action over a video call. The eight lamps send bright light in every direction, while a blue status light on top lets you know it's working. The Adibot also issues a vocal warning that it's cleaning every 30 seconds. It has an RGB camera on the front and motion sensors along the upper rim, all meant to detect if a person enters the room while it's operating.
The Adibot even links to an ordinary looking caution sign you can place in front of the door of the room. If that sign is moved or any motion is detected, the Adibot stops what it's doing immediately. The UVC light is meant to remove pathogens and is aimed primarily at, but you can adjust the dosage to target different diseases. The caution is necessary because UVC can be harmful to people as well.
Both Adibots link to an app and a remote control that can start and stop the cleaning process. The app also logs cleaning sessions and you can see any images captured by the RGB cam if the process was interrupted. You can also check the app for guidance for how long you need to run the Adibot to clean a given room. Ubtech will also supposedly have service representatives ready to help with guidance and will send out a technician for the initial setup of the Adibot-A.
While the Adibot-A will be able to map a building and move on its own, the S is on simple casters. You can link multiple units together in a daisy chain to clean bigger rooms faster. And schools and businesses that can't swing the upfront cost of the models can also lease the machines starting at $15 a day.
Both models look intimidating at a glance and it would be a strange sight to see one of these futuristic-looking robots being wheeled down the hall by a school janitor. I admire Ubtech for trying to lower the barrier to entry with these models, but the upfront cost still seems steep to me. UVC isn't foolproof and won't disinfect dusty surfaces or places the light doesn't reach, and I'd hope we're past this pandemic before such a steep investment would prove to be worth it. Still, for certain businesses, the extra peace of mind might be worthwhile even in the short term.