A Vancouver hospital has become the first in Canada to test a germ-killing, UV-ray-blasting robot.

Vancouver General Hospital is testing the device, which uses powerful ultraviolet light to kill germs and viruses such as norovirus and C. difficile in hospital rooms, on a five-month pilot project.

The machine — known as the Tru-D SmartUVC — is 1.65 metres tall, with long UV light bulbs running vertically up a long shaft.

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UV light bulbs run vertically up the robot's shaft. (Vancouver Coastal Health)

When the device is turned on, a robotic voice gives a 15-second countdown before a bright blue light shines out, reflecting around the room and killing the germs, bugs and bacteria that it reaches.

Dr. Elizabeth Bryce says the five-month trial officially started last month, but the hospital was able to acquire the machine late last year to help it deal with a norovirus outbreak.

After the trial, Bryce says the hospital will test another machine called PulseRx to help the provincial government determine whether either should be used permanently in B.C. hospitals.