MAE 4620 FINAL REPORT; A CRITICAL CONUNDRUM: TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE OR LOOKING FRIENDLY - THE ROLE OF TRUST
Dubas, Erin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Furukawa, Tomonari, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Due to its severity, speed of transmission, and the difficulties associated with tracking it, COVID-19 poses a significant global threat, motivating accelerated development of disinfection to limit its spread. However, surface decontamination typically has been completed by humans manually, which introduces inconsistency to the task and exposes workers to both the virus responsible for COVID-19 and to dangerous chemicals. The technical project addresses these issues through the development of a semi-autonomous disinfection robot. This work is supported by the tightly coupled science, technology, and society (STS) research topic, an investigation into the ways in which the development of robots for use in crises can be improved. The technical project lends firsthand perspective to the STS topic while the STS topic provides a framework to understand and ethically address limitations in the development and adoption of the technical project.
The technical report describes the development of Robot Operating System-Infection Eliminator (ROSIE). Because ROSIE can disinfect spaces more reliably through mapping and without the need for a human to enter the room or be exposed to dangerous chemicals, risk to both workers and patients is greatly reduced. The robot, designed in Solidworks, and assembled using welding, fasteners, and adhesives, disinfects via Ultraviolet-C light dosage emitted by lights around its perimeter and a spot light mounted on a robotic arm. It validates that each surface has received sufficient dosage using simultaneous localization and mapping and imaging.
Additional lights allow for increased effectiveness and decreased disinfection time. The arm provides for disinfection of non-vertical surfaces and beyond the line-of-sight areas. The robot, while determined to be an effective solution for areas with large door frames, still lacks sufficient mobility to be a commercial solution. Mobility was increased by the use of mechanum wheels. However, future drivetrains should use sprockets to achieve the torque necessary and accommodate a significant reduction in size.
The sociotechnical project supports this research by investigating the question: how can the development of robots be best supported, with respect to human-robot interactions, to improve the adoption of robots for disaster relief? This was investigated through an analysis of research papers, opinion pieces, informative essays, and interviews focused on a variety of social groups. This research was accomplished via the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) framework, which ensured that the development of disaster relief robots is discussed as a technology that has been shaped by many social groups. Finally, an analysis of rights and duty ethics was employed to determine the most ethical solution is identified.
Through this research it was established that the media inflates expectations of real-life robots, inhibiting search-and-rescue personnel’s adoption of search-and-rescue robots. This inhibition stems from a lack of trust in the technology, resulting in a need for appropriate narratives to foster acceptance. In assessing this issue through the lenses of rights and duty ethics it became clear that the solution must balance the victim’s rights with the rescuer’s rights. The resulting recommendation is to develop training for first responders specific to search-and-rescue robots. The primary objective of the training should be to inform rescuers of the importance of employing assistive technologies for the sake of test and development, and to provide them with information on the strengths and limitations of the technology. Furthermore, rescuers should be given opportunities to train in scenarios that target improved human-robot interactions. By better informing rescuers of the importance of their role in the development of search-and-rescue technologies, the development and adoption of these robots can be improved.
The field of robotics has great potential for positive impact in real-world crisis response. However, crisis is unpredictable and challenging to design for and test effectively in the time frame critical to recovery. For this reason, it is imperative that research robots, particularly those developed for use in response to crisis, are understood and supported as socially constructed technology.
BS (Bachelor of Science)
Robotics, Social Construction of Technology, Search and Rescue, COVID-19
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Tomonari Furukawa
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Hannah Clark, Daniel Helmus, Charles Kellas, Cynthia Okoye, and Connor Wynkoop
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)