Airport introduces germ killing robot

Helen Coffey
·2 min read
The Lightstrike robot (AP)
The Lightstrike robot (AP)

An airport in the US is employing a robot that kills germs in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

San Antonio International Airport in Texas has introduced the $125,000 (£94,000) device, known as LightStrike, to clean public spaces.

Xenex, the company behind the robot, says it has seen demand for its tech grow by 600 per cent during the pandemic.

“When you bring something like SARS-CoV-2 into focus, institutions like hotels, airlines, professional sports teams, they're looking for what's best-in-class to kill it,” said Morris Miller, CEO of Xenex.

About the size of a wheelchair and pushed by a human operator, LightStrike uses powerful UV light to kill viruses on surfaces within a 7ft radius.

The xenon UV-C light can damage the DNA and RNA of viruses within minutes.

As the light is not safe for humans, the robot has a built-in motion sensor that ensures it turns off if anyone walks within range.

In initial tests, LightStrike was found to destroy coronavirus after two minutes’ exposure.

However, although such a device can provide extra piece of mind for travellers, experts have warned that contact with surfaces is not the primary method of transmission in busy places such as airports.

“Surface transmission is one of the least likely ways that an individual would catch coronavirus,” Mercedes Carnethon, professor of epidemiology at Northwestern University, told The Washington Post.

“Perhaps robots are a measure that's reassuring to individuals, but it's not really going to have a large-scale impact.”

It follows the news that British Airways and Lufthansa have become the first two airlines in the world to be given a Covid-19 safety rating.

Skytrax, which rates airlines and airports around the globe according to strict criteria, has now introduced a new branch, the Covid-19 Airline Safety Ratings, which analyses carriers’ policies when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Both airlines received a four-star rating (out of a potential five stars).

They were assessed on the effectiveness and consistency of the hygiene and safety measures they’ve put in place and potential risk to passengers across the airport and cabin environment.

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