The futuristic robot that can 'find and zap' killer bugs like Covid-19 and MRSA

With hospital-acquired infections costing the NHS up to £1bn a year, a new piece of technology is promising to eradicate the problem, writes Nick Frame.

Bright future: Charlie Taylor hopes that the Thor machine can change how hospitals are cleaned.

It wouldn’t seem out of place as a character in Star Wars, but a futuristic-looking robot could help to save countless lives and billions of pounds for the NHS, according to one

Yorkshire woman, who works as a distributor.

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Charlie Taylor, from Ackworth, West Yorkshire, says Thor – a radically-advanced machine that uses ultraviolet light to kill off germs in hospital rooms – is now being put to work in a growing number of hospitals across the world, with its ability to find and zap killer bugs such as Covid-19 and MRSA within minutes.

Manufacturer Finsen Technologies has spent years researching and building the patented machine and distributor Mrs Taylor is confident it can revolutionise hospital hygiene.

As a sales manager, her work involves pitching to corporations, but she fears the general public is largely unaware that such machines exist or what they are capable of.

“Taking sales aspects aside, anyone can see how this would benefit hospitals,” claims the 45-year-old, who grew up in South Kirkby and attended Minsthorpe College.

“Patients are so frightened to go into hospital with everything that has happened in the last few months you would think the NHS would be all over this.

“From a patient perspective, it would give them more confidence to go into hospital. It’s about making people safe.

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“Hospital-acquired infections are absolutely rife, no matter how much you think you can clean a theatre. This machine is so clever.

“You could send cleaners in but are they going to get every last thing using a mop and bucket? No, they are not.”

Having taken years to devise, the machine costs £40,000 and uses military-grade equipment to ensure rooms are fully sanitised.

Adjustable to above two-metres high, the machine can simply be wheeled into a room and plugged in.

People must leave the room before it starts and if it detects anyone present, it will shut down immediately.

It then automatically scans every last inch of the room from floor to ceiling, and every bit of furniture or equipment within it, locating every organism of harmful bacteria before sending the data to a computer tablet.

It then delivers a calculated dose of ultraviolet C (UVC), which kills almost 100 per cent of all detected germs.

Completing the cleanse within 40 minutes, it is far quicker and more effective than standard hand cleaning.

Some hospital theatres can take more than two-and-a-half hours to complete a clean, with cleaners forced to wait for airborne germs to settle, thus putting a greater time strain on staff, operations and procedures.

Thor can detect and kill all particles while they are still airborne.

In addition, it leaves detectable markers to log what it found, killed and when it was cleaned, producing huge quantities of data to ensure areas remain sanitised.

Hospitals across the world are now using the machine, including one as far away as Sydney, Australia.

One piece of research suggested that UVC technology led to a 34 per cent decrease in hospital acquired infections in one setting in the US.

Such infections are reported to cost the NHS £1bn a year, but still the uptake of the technology in Britain’s hospitals has been slow.

None of the hospitals in Yorkshire yet have the machines, but Mrs Taylor says this is not down to an unwillingness, but more to do with red tape.

“With the NHS it’s a long process,” she says. “It’s so completely new, the challenge we are finding is who do we talk to about this?

“It’s new, but the evidence there to support the claims about what it can do is phenomenal.”

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James Mitchinson