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WSU students partner up with McConnell Air Force Base to create COVID killing robot

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two Wichita State University seniors are creating a robot to kill COVID-19 germs at McConnell Air Force Base. It’s one of five projects the base is helping WSU students work on.

Lydia Melles and Lucy Hoang are seniors studying computer science at Wichita State University.

“I feel really cool when I tell my friends I’m headed down (to the base)” said Melles.

The female duo is spending several hours three days a week at McConnell creating a robot to help fight COVID-19 germs.

“COVID-19 isn’t the last or the first pandemic, so whatever we can do to try to help mitigate the risk is great,” said Hoang.

When the robot is complete, it will have UVC lights that can kill germs in large public spaces, but for now, the duo is working to make the robot move on its own.

“We are using 3D printers, laser cutters, and bandsaws to build the robot from scratch and really coming up with innovative designs,” said Hoang.

“The technology they’re developing is going to open up a platform, we like to refer to it as the Air Force of the future, ” said Sgt. Clayton Allen, McConnell Air Force Base. “We’ll have the ability to autonomously move pallets or maybe even small trainer aircraft with what they are building.”

It’s hands-on experience that Melles said will help her in the future.

“I actually want to do robotics in my career, this has been an amazing jumping off point,” said Melles.

The goal is for the students this year to make sure the robot is able to move, but next year, there will be a new team to get it fully functioning.

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