Creating solutions: Geist couple pair experiences, technologies to create a disinfecting robot

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Geist residents Jason and Diana Brugh make a dynamic team. The married couple combined Diana’s experience as a microbiologist with Jason’s experience as an industrial engineer to create the company AutoBio Reduction in May. AutoBio Reduction is a sister company of Brugh Industrial Engineering, a firm dedicated to automation, robotics and process controls.

UVNinja is the brainchild of AutoBio Reduction. UVNinja is a hospital-grade UVC light source that autonomously or automatically works through a space to disinfect areas.

The UVNinja disinfects workspaces by using UV light.

“For example, if it’s an office space, we would come in and set up the UVNinja to go into each cubicle and spend a specific amount of time in each cubicle. The light disinfects that cubicle,” Jason said. “Anything the light touches is disinfected after a certain time.”

AutoBio Reduction was formed as a solution to some of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AutoBio Reduction’s mission is to create solutions to mitigate biological hazards you may have in commercial or industrial spaces where a large number of people congregate,” Diana said. “Our first product was the UVNinja.”

Jason said similar types of robots have been used for years in industrial environments.

“When the pandemic hit, we started to look at the technology we had on hand, and our engineering team brainstormed how can we use this technology in a commercial setting where this has typically been reserved for an industrial environment,” Jason said. “In a couple weeks, we had a prototype built. We understand UV light. UV light is a great source of disinfection, so we created a system that can really be used in commercial, educational, institutional or municipal settings that bring that disinfectant technology into the hands of the public.”

When studying at Purdue University, Diana used UV light as a disinfectant while working in labs.

“UV light has been used for decades,” she said. “It’s a proven technology that’s been around forever. It prevents microorganisms from replicating. Like spraying a can of disinfectant, everything you have just sprayed is now disinfected. UV light does the same thing by disinfecting any microorganisms in the area.”

The Brughs have created three UVNinja robots and can manufacture them on demand in as little as two days. The robot has the capability to travel more than 5 miles with more than 8 hours of light time on a single charge.

The robots cost $69,500 dollars per unit, which includes the robot, system set-up and missions and a year’s monitoring for the robot.

“That is a long-term investment for the customer,” Jason said. “You’re essentially buying a very technological piece of equipment here that can be used on a daily basis. That cost is then used for the next decade. There’s no additional cost other than typical maintenance like lightbulbs and the battery, but the battery has a 10-year warranty.”

Diana has a bachelor’s degree in food science from Purdue and previously worked as a microbiologist. She is the president and co-founder of AutoBio Reduction. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Purdue and is the owner and founder of Brugh Industrial Engineering. He is the director of engineering and co-founder of AutoBio Reduction.

Response so far

The UVNinja has only been available for a few weeks, but Diana Brugh said there has been a great response so far to the robot.

“We’ve had lots of interest,” she said. “A lot of companies have wanted to be brokers because it is such a great piece of equipment to mitigate what we are going through. This is a long-term solution, not just for COVID, and it’s definitely something that can be used in the future.”

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