Key West International Airport has enlisted the help of a COVID, germ zapping robot?

UVD Robot testing cleaning protocols. Courtesy: Monroe County BOCC Facebook

The Monroe County airport has enlisted the help of a brand new, autonomous, germ zapping, COVID killing machine at its Key West International Airport (EYW).

Beginning Friday, the robot cleaner produced by UVD Robots will begin patrolling the airport after hours and will emit ultraviolet light via a light panel tower mounted on the machine. Airport officials said the robot can clean the entire interior space of the airport in roughly 2 ½ hours.

“We are thrilled to work with Key West International Airport to demonstrate how UV technology can truly revolutionize disinfecting public spaces in record time without the need for harsh chemicals. The FDA, WHO, and FEMA endorsed UVC as an effective germicidal treatment that destroys, kills, and inactivates microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi,” said Christine Gallo, President of IP Program a division of Gallo Medical via a Key West airport press release. 

With COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise in Florida and throughout the country, many companies have looked to contracting cleaning teams and buying misting machines to soak their workspaces in an effort to disinfect surfaces and provide an added layer of protection for their employees and customers. 

According to the Key West International Airport website, it is the “first Florida airport to implement a new autonomous robot that eradicates 99.9% of pathogens (inclusive of COVID-19), and disinfects the air using ultraviolet technology.”

UVD Robots was founded in 2016 and is a subsidiary of Blue Ocean Robotics, which produces and sells professional service robots for humans. The almost six foot tall, 300-pound autonomous patrol cleaner was created with the intent to sanitize airports, cruise ships, malls, hospitals, and hotels per the company. 

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council says EYW will be one of the first airports in the country to acquire the machine and Richard Strickland, Sr. Director of Airports of Key West International Airport, hopes it will sustain the airport’s current protection protocols against the spread and containment of the virus.

Courtesy: Key West International Airport website

Currently, the airport is following the traditional COVID safety protocols and sanitization procedures, including mask mandates for employees and passengers and hand-sanitizing stations. Since the start of the pandemic, the airport has also made efforts to conduct thorough deep cleanings of high-traffic areas and new seating for comfortable social distancing in the terminals. The robot’s UV technology will provide an added layer of protection to the existing cleaning protocols by killing airborne COVID-19 particles and disinfecting surfaces. Research from the University of Pennsylvania supports claims that UV radiation can assist with cleaning and sanitizing but is not a full-proof way to prevent the virus from spreading. 

“UV technology is another fantastic disinfection tool to rid surfaces of COVID-19 currently on the market,” added Strickland.“Our continued commitment to the health and safety of all of our guests as well as our employees has to come first.” 

Once programmed, the $100,000 robot will move about on its own with GPS mapping, much like the popular robot vacuums that have surged in the home-appliance market. It can also be monitored by an operator via a tablet, according to the tourist council.

While the technology of UV robots is not a completely new innovation, the use and exposure they have received has boomed since the start of the pandemic and could be something that will stay for the foreseeable future in heavily populated buildings and gathering places.

The robot will not replace current manual cleaning practices and will operate during the airport’s off hours.

To learn more about UVD Robots, visit their website by clicking here

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