Pittsburgh First US Airport to Deploy UV Cleaning Robots

Pittsburgh International Airport is partnering with local tech firm Carnegie Robotics as part of a strategy to enhance cleaning processes and improve the health and safety of travelers in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The airport is the first in the United States to introduce autonomous robots with ultraviolet light technology designed to kill potentially harmful microbes in high-traffic areas.

Nilfisk’s Liberty SC50 Autonomous Scrubber/Dryer—a commercial-grade, fully autonomous robotic floor-cleaning machine developed in conjunction with Carnegie Robotics—is currently being tested in the airport’s terminals. Officials expect the machines to be deployed full-time soon as part of the airport’s daily cleaning routines.

The integration of a UVC fixture allows the machines to emit intense ultraviolet rays on the floor, sanitizing the surface after the scrubber has cleaned it.

Airport officials are also looking into other ways to utilize UV disinfecting technology such as the sterilizations of handrails on escalators and moving walkways as well as elevator buttons and other high-touch areas.

“The health and safety of airport staff and the traveling public are always the top priorities,” said Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis in a statement. “We know that restoring confidence in travel is going to be key to the industry’s recovery. That’s why we’re partnering with world-leading Pittsburgh technology companies to help develop solutions.”

Officials at Hong Kong International Airport have deployed similar technologies to combat the spread of COVID-19, including trialing a full-body disinfectant machine capable of sanitizing human bodies and clothing in under a minute.

The aviation industry has been rocked by the ongoing pandemic with nationwide passenger traffic plummetting by more than 90 percent amid extended travel restrictions and bans, stay-at-home orders and increased social distancing.

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