Norovirus is something you absolutely do not want. It’s like getting food poisoning and influenza all at the same time and it doesn’t let up. To aid researchers in studying norovirus the blokes at the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire have built Larry the vomiting robot.

Larry is able to reproduce the human vomit speed, volume and distance to allow the researchers to study how widely norovirus can be spread when someone vomits all over a room you’re in. Or when someone with norovirus vomits and then touches all the door knobs and hand rails in your vicinity.

With a gut full of a florescent marker and a vomit like substance the scientists can track the spread of the virus in an affected area. Since norovirus can survive for 12 hours on exposed surfaces and longer in fabrics the florescent material allows them to keep an eye on how far it can make it in different scenarios. As norovirus is also known as the cruise ship virus, it’s of obvious concern to cruise lines, hotels, conference centers and other areas with lots of people trapped in an enclosed space.

This nasty virus is hard to come up with a vaccine for since researchers are unable to reproduce human norovirus in the lab. Meanwhile the virus continues to mutate and evolve each year. Furthermore, a very small number of virus cells can infect a healthy person.

Source: The Register