San Antonio turns to robot technology to help combat COVID-19
San Antonio International Airport (SAT) has become first airport in the world to purchase and deploy the Xenex LightStrike robot to help it combat COVID-19.
The Texas gateway is confident that the locally made machine’s ultraviolet (UV) room disinfection technology will eliminate SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.
“The health and safety of our employees and passengers is our number-one priority,” says Jesus Saenz, director of airports for the City of San Antonio.
“The acquisition of the Xenex LightStrike robot is just the latest innovative enhancement to our daily operations and efforts to ensure that travelling through San Antonio International Airport is the easiest and safest experience passengers can encounter.”
The LightStrike robot incorporates cutting-edge technology through bursts of intense UV light to destroy hard-to-kill viruses and bacteria found in common places and hard-to-clean spaces.
SAT is the first airport to deploy LightStrike robot technology from Xenex – a renowned world-leader in infection prevention and disinfection technology.
According to the airport, LightStrike technology is used in healthcare facilities to destroy microscopic pathogens often found on high-touch surfaces that can cause healthcare associated infections.
In testing performed at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute – one of the world’s leading independent research institutes working exclusively on infectious disease – the LightStrike robot destroyed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes.
SAT is now bringing this same level of disinfection to the commercial airport industry.
“Planning for the disinfection of public spaces – especially commercial airports – is a major priority to reduce the risk of disease transmission,” states Xenex’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Dr Mark Stibich.
“Putting an effective infection prevention infrastructure in place is essential, and we are proud to partner with San Antonio International Airport in leading the aviation industry in this effort.”
Using environmentally-friendly pulsed xenon, the portable LightStrike is said to be able to disinfect an area in less than 10-15 minutes without warm-up or cool-down time.
This, notes SAT, will allow the quick and easy deployment of the LightStrike robot to disinfect high-traffic areas without a disruption to passengers.
Operated by the airport’s terminal services staff, it can be used anywhere in the airport – to include jet bridges, gate areas, ticketing counters, baggage claim, concessions, elevators and restrooms – where there are high-touch surfaces or high volumes of traffic.
“Our goal is to provide the safest environment for our passengers. We already have a comprehensive sanitisation and disinfection process in place,” said Saenz.
“We are excited to add the LightStrike to our current health enhancements to complement our sanitation stations, social distancing measures and other safety protocols. We are proud to be a leader in the aviation industry when it comes to health and safety, and to be the first airport to employ the LightStrike.”
The airport plans to hold a city-wide naming contest to name the LightStrike Robot.
The naming contest will be a part of the airport’s social media efforts designed to restore consumer confidence in commercial air travel and reduce fears of contracting COVID-19 while at the airport.
You can read more about SAT’s COVID-19 strategy and its plans to flourish once the pandemic is over in the next print issue of Airport World.