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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Ontario Tech researcher exploring how robotics can help better-disinfect high-traffic public spaces

Dr. Akramul Azim collaborating with Cyberworks Robotics to meet the need for advanced sanitizing systems

Dr. Akramul Azim, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Ontario Tech University.
Dr. Akramul Azim, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Ontario Tech University.

Among the many health-related lessons brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic is the imperative need for reliable sanitizing of public spaces like airports, hospitals and long-term care facilities for even the smallest trace of transmissible pathogens.

Keeping floors, walls and various high-traffic touchpoints spick and span around the clock poses various challenges, including the need for frequent surface treatments and the availability of human resources to ensure spaces are consistently cleansed and not accidentally neglected.

To help meet the surging demand for quicker and faster advanced technologies in disinfecting processes, Ontario Tech University researcher Dr. Akramul Azim is working with Markham, Ontario-based Cyberworks Robotics. Cyberworks manufactures state-of-the-art autonomous self-driving technology for industry-grade ultraviolet disinfection systems and floor cleaners for airports, hospitals and the entertainment industry. It also creates self-driving wheelchairs and agricultural tractor-tugs.

“We are developing intelligent robots to help improve Cyberworks Robotics’ navigation technologies,” explains Dr. Azim, an Assistant Professor with Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “We are focused on wet-floor scrubbers, and disinfection machines that use high-intensity ultraviolet light or chemical mist. Using intelligent machines to sanitize would allow public facilities to disinfect surfaces more safely and on a more frequent basis, while simultaneously increasing the quality of cleaning."

Such systems would help organizations manage the cost and availability of human operators, and take greater advantage of off-hour periods when pedestrian traffic in a building is typically lower.

“In our collaboration we are investigating the potential for increasing the number of disinfection system models with which our add-on technology is compatible, and increasing the performance specifications of the device-navigation technology itself,” says Dr. Azim. “Organizations with large numbers of potential COVID-19 transmission hotspots would immediately benefit from the enhanced robotic disinfection technology this project will deliver.”

Cyberworks Robotics is in position to utilize the research immediately to enhance the performance of its existing floor-cleaning product line. The company’s clients and partners include the largest hospitals in Canada and the United States, including the University Health Network in Toronto, along with aviation industry players.

“Hospitals and long-term care homes are in great need of this advanced technology and we plan to bring an innovative and smart disinfection system with this industry-academia collaboration,” says Dr. Azim.

Media contact

Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
289.928.3653 (mobile)
bryan.oliver@ontariotechu.ca