Akara, a Trinity College Dublin spinout now based at The Digital Hub in Dublin’s Liberties, has created a robot that is currently enabling more medical procedures in a major NHS hospital in Cornwall, UK. The robot created by the team decontaminates air and is currently undergoing a trial period in the endoscopy department to determine its effectiveness. Early results are promising and suggest it could reduce room downtime in critical parts of the hospital by more than 60%. Normally, after certain medical examinations, rooms need to be left vacant for more than 25 minutes to ensure proper ventilation. However, with the Akara robot air replenishment is reduced to 10 minutes. Akara has grown over the last few years after emerging from years of research from Trinity’s School of Engineering and the SFI ADAPT Centre.
Since June 2022, the robot has been at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RCHT) and has been used in parts of the hospital with a higher chance of air contamination. The idea for the project came as a direct result of COVID-19 pressures where thorough cleaning of the air was critical to avoid further infection spread. The robot is designed to eliminate COVID-19 as well as other viruses such as the flu. Akara was formed in 2019 and has previously been awarded significant funding by the European Innovation Council (EIC).
The trial has been carried out in collaboration with the eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) project, the University of Plymouth and DIH Hero, a European innovation hub with a goal to accelerate innovation in robotics for healthcare. Findings from this trial will be presented at the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) Conference in Bournemouth in October 2022.