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Ava Partners with MIT CSAIL on Disinfecting Robot for the Greater Boston Food Bank

With heavy demands on food banks across the country, the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) needed a solution to not only help arm their warehouse against the novel coronavirus but to also ensure the safety of their staff. When MIT approached our team, we couldn't wait to provide the Ava platform and work together on a solution.

Teamwork, partnership, and successful integration

With limitations around equipment, facility access, and social distancing protocols, the project required a real team effort from Ava, MIT CSAIL, and the GBFB--which ultimately made measuring the success (with a UVC Dosimeter) that much more rewarding.

The result after four short weeks of collaboration was a disinfecting robot with a custom UVC lamp assembly atop an Ava base: capable of disinfecting a 4,000 square foot warehouse at the GBFB in just 30 minutes.

"MIT has been a great partner, and when they came to us, the team was eager to start the integration, which took just four weeks to get up and running,” says Ava Robotics CEO Youssef Saleh. “The opportunity for robots to solve workplace challenges is bigger than ever, and collaborating with MIT to make an impact at the food bank has been a great experience." 

How did Ava telepresence come into play?

Testing and monitoring the robot was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, using an Ava Telepresence Robot alonside the UVC robot meant we could have team members present during tests without adding humans to the GBFB space. During the tests when someone was onsite collecting video, others were connected and observing on Ava. Sometimes our team even used Ava to follow the UVC robot and verify it was on good behavior as it disinfected the space.

Ava's cameras also allowed the Ava and MIT teams to explore the GBFB warehouse when deploying the UVC robot, something that wasn't going to be otherwise possible with the recommended social distancing protocols.

"The telepresence robot has been instrumental in aiding the teams’ progress while observing strict safety protocols," said Alyssa Pierson, CSAIL research scientist and technical lead of the UV-C lamp assembly.

Read the full release from MIT CSAIL:

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