Autonomous cleaning robots area proven and effective weaponthat airports can deploy in thebattle against the pandemic,writes Brain Corp’s Michel Spruijt.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced travel authorities and airport managers to re-think terminal operations with a wide array of new technologies being introduced to maximise traveller safety.
They include autonomous cleaning robots, which have the potential to bolster hygiene across terminals and provide a high profile reminder to passengers and staff that their health and wellbeing is a top priority for airports.
Those in any doubt about this only had to read the last issue of Airport World, which revealed that San Antonio International Airport had invested in a locally made cleaning robot that uses ultraviolet room disinfection technology to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
And the magazine has previously written online about Hong Kong International Airport’s Intelligent Sterilization Robots and Singapore Changi’s own version that sprays a light disinfecting mist for added protection on carpets and floors during cleaning.
A public opinion survey carried out by IATA in July 2020 could not have been clearer: COVID-19 fears are widespread among those travelling through airport terminals.
According to the survey, 58% of respondents said that they have avoided air travel, with 33% suggesting that they will avoid travel in future to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Indeed, a serious proportion of airport users have true reservations about travel owing to the possibility of infection.
Hygiene has always been a priority for airports, but now more than ever it must take centre stage as a concern. As potential infection vectors, hosting thousands of international travellers daily, airports have their own image and that of their entire industry at stake.
What’s needed is a new and verifiable level of clean, and operations managers are increasingly turning to robotics to tackle the crisis.
Robots to the rescue
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for cleaning have been introduced across a growing number of international airports as a new line of defence against the coronavirus.
Heightened safety fears and the need for verifiable levels of clean have led to the deployment of the new technology.
The use of autonomous cleaning robots effectively gives valuable time back to teams so they can focus on tasks only humans can carry out, such as sanitising high-contact surfaces, managing traffic flow or dealing with traveller concerns.
Robotic floor care solutions can perform the same task multiple times a day, ensuring consistency and data-backed records of operations.
These robots can be used as helpful solutions, at the same time requiring human support on the front and back ends of the process.
The public’s reception to AMRs playing a growing role in raising the safety levels at the world’s airports has been hugely positive.
Multiple airports in North America and Europe have started deploying AMRs since the outbreak of the virus. And across industries, sales of robots have surged, with 73% of supply chain managers stating that robotics will be important in the future.
Indeed, according to Brain Corp data, there has been a significant uptick in usage within its powered fleet of over 14,000 robots.