Robotic drone solution for disinfecting food plants wins prize

The grand-prize winner of this year’s Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize — Human Dynamics — is seeking to improve sanitation in food production plants with a robotic drone called ‘drobot’.

Designed to fly through facilities spraying soap and disinfectant, the company said the robotic drone can help with daily sanitation tasks at food production facilities.

Co-founder Tom Okamoto, a master’s student in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, said the average large food manufacturer spends $13 million on sanitation annually. When this is combined with the time sanitation processes take away from production and delays due to human error, his company estimates this solution is tackling an $80 billion problem.

The company’s prototype uses a quadcopter drone that carries a tank, nozzle and spray hose. Underneath the hood, the drone uses visual detection technology to validate that each area is clean, LIDAR to map out its path and…