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The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) spent 96.3 million baht on the UV-C light disinfection robots, prompting the Thai public to demand explanations of the advantages and quality of the devices. Despite the SRT purchasing the expensive robots, many believe they have yet to see them in action.
The SRT’s Public Relations Department reported that due to the potential harm that the powerful UV-C light could do to people, the UV-C light disinfection robots are mostly employed at night when train stations are deserted.
The department further highlighted that there was no corruption involved and that the acquisition procedure was performed in total transparency. In 2021, at the height of the epidemic, it was decided to purchase the robots because both officers and passengers required protection while avoiding travel.
An open bid method was used in the procurement process, and a robot business got the contract. For a total of 96.25 million baht, the company provided 20 UV-C light disinfection robots, as well as two years of maintenance and personnel training.
Twenty robots were placed in seven different train stations: there were four at Hua Lamphong Station, five at Bangkok Apiwat Station, three at the SRT office, and two each at Chiang Mao, Nong Khai, Ubon Ratchathani, and Hard Yai.
The SRT asserts that the robots are efficient and worth the cost since they can use UV-C light to sanitize DNA and RNA of microscopic bacteria, germs, or viruses. The robots can also move autonomously and feature artificial intelligence processing systems that cause them to halt instantly when they spot a person within a five-meter range.
The SRT also includes a number of tests from various organizations to demonstrate the robots’ efficacy.
The results of a recent investigation by Channel 7 into the SRT’s deployment of UV-C light disinfection robots were in sharp contrast to the findings of the SRT’s Public Relations Department.
The channel spoke with many SRT employees at several train stations, who said they used the robots infrequently out of concern for people’s safety because the UV-C light from the robots could be harmful to their health. They also claimed that operating the robots was difficult.
In addition, Channel 7 broadcast a video showing a robot failing to recognize and stop despite close people.
The public is likely to keep asking for details about how well the UV-C light disinfection robots are used even if the SRT has not yet responded to the Channel 7 report.