UVA uses robots for wastewater testing

Oct 7, 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia is using a team of approximately 20 auto-sampling robots, about the size of a small trashcan, to search the sewers of residence halls on Grounds for the SARS-COV-2 virus, or coronavirus.

These auto-samplers, with names like Anakin, R2-D2, and C-3PO from Star Wars, are programmed to take 30 milliliters of wastewater every 15 minutes. 

Robots similar to these are often used to monitor streams for pollutants but are being used by UVA to monitor residence halls for the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater. 

"It's important to have a way to sample that water somewhat consistently across a 24-hour period. Just because SARS-COV-2 is in stool but that stool transiently moves through the system, so you kind of have to catch it if you will," said Dr. Amy Mathers, an infectious disease physician and associate director of clinical microbiology for the UVA Health System.

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