Key West Airport Enlists High-Tech Robot to Sanitize and Disinfect

A coronavirus-fighting robot will begin patrolling Key West International Airport’s interior spaces "after hours," starting Tuesday, December 15.

Plying the corridors and spaces of the Florida Keys' airport, this high tech robot developed by UVD Robots will emit high-intensity ultraviolet UV-C wavelength light. That can kill 99 percent of harmful pathogens (including COVID-19) in the air and on surfaces. Key West International Airport is among the first airports in the United States to acquire one of the sophisticated units that provides non-chemical disinfection. Weighing 300 pounds, the six-foot-tall robot is a formidable virus/pathogen fighter. 

Richard Strickland, director of airports for Monroe County in the Florida Keys, said the equipment's acquisition was motivated by a desire to augment the airport’s other cleanliness and passenger protection practices to safeguard against coronavirus. Airport officials and manufacturers’ representatives demonstrated the robot this week. Officials said the robot can disinfect the entire airport’s interior spaces in approximately two-and-a-half hours.

“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.”

The robot can move around the airport automatically once it's been programmed. A human operator will ensure people are away from spaces the robot will sanitize and monitor its progress via an electronic smart table. The robot emits intense light during the active disinfection cycle, so it can only be used after hours. For further safety, a sensor will shut the light down if a human presence is detected to protect people from UV-C exposure.

Airport officials are to 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.

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