Drone System Could Help Clean out Microbes from Hospitals

Announcing a U.S. patent record of 8,088 patents granted to its inventors in 2016, IBM is highlighting a recently patented drone application that could help advance cognitive healthcare.

“Drone-based microbial analysis system,” U.S. Patent No. 9,447,448, implements unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to map out and clean microbes in both hospitals and agricultural fields.

According to the patent’s description, these environments can be “plagued by microbes,” including “antibiotic resistant bacteria, mold, pathogens, spores, viruses or other contaminants.”

“Traditionally, human workers were tasked with the responsibility to detect and disinfect contaminated areas … As workloads increase with cost-cutting measures, workers are faced with the challenge to manage the cognitive load of identifying likely contaminated areas, disinfect positively identified contamination areas, and prevent the future spread of microbes.”

According to IBM, surveying, testing and measuring contamination is controlled by a cognitive facility that manages UAVs. These drones could enter a contaminated area, collect specimens and then allow researchers to sterilize the contamination, says IBM, which adds that this process is either triggered by specific risks or performed on an ongoing basis.

If researchers collect and sterilize microbe samples through a UAV – or fleet of UAVs – new insights into bacterial infections in hospitals or on farmland could become possible, explains the tech giant.

The inventors of the system are James R. Kozloski of New Fairfield, Conn.; Timothy M. Lynar of Kew, Australia; Clifford A. Pickover of Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; and John M. Wagner of Carlton, Australia.


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