This Futuristic Robot’s Only Job Is To Disinfect Covid-19 at Key West Airport

Key West Covid 19 Robot

During the coronavirus pandemic, many airports have been taking extra measures to fight the virus. Los Angeles International Airport began thermal screening passengers to detect fevers, and San Francisco International Airport partnered with United Airlines to offer rapid Covid-19 tests for passengers departing to Hawaii to avoid 14-day quarantine. Now, there’s a coronavirus-fighting robot that disinfects at Key West International Airport.

Today, December 15, a coronavirus-fighting robot began patrolling Key West International Airport’s interior spaces after hours to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Key West Airport Robot
Mike Price, an infection prevention specialist with iP Program, walks and programs an ultraviolet light-emitting robot at Key West International Airport. Courtesy: Key West Airport.

The ultraviolet disinfection robot, developed by UVD Robots, is designed to remove 99.9% of pathogens including COVID-19, according to a press release. Key West International Airport is among the first airports in the United States to acquire one of the advanced robot units that provides non-chemical disinfection, according to a manufacturer’s representative.

The robot is nearly 6 feet tall and weighs over 300 pounds. It can move around the airport autonomously once it has been programmed and “mapped” spaces at night when the airport is least busy.

Why must it clean and disinfect when no one is around?

Key West Coronavirus Robot
An ultraviolet light-emitting robot rolls in an inactive mode in front of check-in counters at Key West International Airport. Courtesy: Key West Airport.

The light the robot emits during the active disinfection cycle is so intense it can only be used after hours when people are not present, according to the release. For further safety, a sensor will shut the light down if a human presence is detected to protect people from UV-C exposure. The robot is monitored by a human operator via an electronic smart tablet to ensure people are away from spaces that will be sanitized.

With the UVD Robot, Key West Airport can focus on cleanliness and passenger protection practices to safeguard against coronavirus, Richard Strickland, director of airports for the Keys’ Monroe County, said in a statement.

“Passengers should know that as they travel to Key West International Airport and utilize the facilities here, we’ve made every effort possible against COVID-19 to protect passengers’ safety,” said Strickland. “And now, with the ultraviolet light robot that we have here, we’ll be able to step that up even another notch.”

Airport officials and manufacturers’ representatives demonstrated the robot last week. The robot can disinfect the entire airport’s interior spaces in approximately two-and-one-half hours, according to officials.

Key West International Airport will continue to utilize other efforts, including manual disinfection and requiring that all personnel and passengers wear masks, to help mitigate spread of the COVID-19 virus, according to officials.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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