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Pittsburgh airport deploys autonomous UV cleaning robots

The robots use ultra-violet light and form part of the airport’s new disinfecting strategy to increase cleanliness and help to restore confidence in travelling.

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UV robots in action at the airport. Picture: Pittsburgh International Airport/Beth Hollerich
UV robots in action at the airport. Picture: Pittsburgh International Airport/Beth Hollerich

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) claims to have become the first US airport to use autonomous robots with ultraviolet light technology for cleaning.

 

The disinfecting robots mark the first project in the airport’s drive to use innovation from the region’s tech community to tackle the challenges brought by Covid-19. The roll-out of the robots follows a partnership the airport has formed with Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics.

 

Restoring confidence

 

Pittsburgh describes the robots as the first step of an airport-wide strategy to deploy technology solutions and multi-layered cleaning processes to enhance the health and safety of the travelling public. The technology is designed to kill microbes in high-traffic areas, increasing cleanliness and helping to restore confidence in travelling.

 

PIT is the only airport in the US with these specially equipped floor-cleaning machines, and airport officials look to incorporate UV disinfecting technology in additional ways, including the sterilisation of handrails on escalators and moving walkways, elevator buttons and other high-touch areas.

 

“The Airport Authority is always at the forefront of technologies and, in this case, is using these Carnegie Robotics innovations to protect passengers and staff and enhance the travellers’ experience,” said Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald.

 

The pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry has been dramatic, with passenger traffic falling more than 90 per cent as social distancing and stay-at-home orders remain in effect. As part of the solution, PIT hopes to speed the industry’s rebound through technology solutions.

 

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

 

Developed in conjunction with Pittsburgh firm Carnegie Robotics, Nilfisk’s Liberty SC50 autonomous scrubber/dryer is a commercial-grade, fully autonomous, robotic floor-cleaning machine.

“We know that restoring confidence in travel is going to be key to the industry recovery. That’s why we’re partnering with world-leading Pittsburgh technology companies to help develop solutions.”

The integration of a UVC fixture emits intense ultraviolet rays on the floor, sanitising the surface after the scrubber has cleaned it. Hospitals and laboratories have used ultraviolet light as a disinfectant for years, and now Pittsburgh International Airport and Carnegie Robotics are testing that technology to safely treat public spaces in the US airport sector.

 

“Carnegie Robotics is thrilled to work with the Allegheny County Airport Authority to rapidly test and develop this technology, which was designed to combat healthcare associated infections (HAIs) such as C Diff, MRSA and other resistant pathogens in medical facilities,” said Daniel Beaven, CFO, Carnegie Robotics.

 

He added: “I can’t overstate the importance of a motivated and competent user-partner to rapidly develop new technology. The Airport Authority has repeatedly demonstrated leadership in this way and we could not be more pleased to be here.”

 

The airport is testing the autonomous scrubbers with Carnegie Robotics in the terminals, and officials expect them to be deployed soon as part of the airport’s daily cleaning routines.

 

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