Sterilising surgical instruments: robotics in the startup ecosystem

The challenge of hygiene is paramount in medical facilities, necessitating countless hours dedicated to sterilising instruments. This was the situation in Dr. Giorgio Castagno's dental practice in Valsesia, northern Italy. It took the assistant over six hours daily to sterilise tools and drills. Dr. Castagno identified this not as a minor inconvenience but as a significant issue.

Enter the startup revolution

In 2018, Dr. Castagno envisioned a technological solution to this problem: automating the sterilisation process. His research into robotics led him to Marco Galvan, a professional with vast industry knowledge. Their collaborative effort gave birth to Robota, a startup focused on automating medical instrument cleaning. With the backing of friends and family, the duo developed their first prototype, which piqued the interest of fellow dentists. Recognising its potential as a marketable product, they collaborated with KUKA.

Innovative automation in practice

Visitors to the Valsesia dental clinic can now observe the robotic marvel in action. Encased in a glass compartment, the KUKA robot diligently manages dental instruments. The process starts with manually loading the used instruments. The robot then takes over, ensuring the instruments undergo thorough decontamination, rinsing, disinfection, washing, and finally, drying. The KUKA robot KR 6 AGILUS discerns each dental instrument, ensuring they undergo each sterilisation phase. Once loaded, it operates autonomously, even after practice hours, liberating staff from this arduous task.

Universal acclaim

Dr. Castagno initially had reservations about patient reception to the robotic addition. However, it quickly became apparent that patients associated the robot with superior hygiene standards. The robotic spectacle now captivates those in the waiting room, symbolising the innovative approach to maintaining hygiene standards.