UV cleaning robots come to Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh International Airport has teamed up with Carnegie Robotics to deploy a pair of autonomous floor scrubbers to clean passenger areas.

The robots use UV technology to kill microbes in high-traffic areas and are part of an airport-wide approach to disinfect the airport during the COVID-19 crisis.

Katherine Karolick, senior vice president for information technology at Pittsburgh International Airport, said restoring passenger confidence is key if aviation is to recover from the severe downturn it is facing.

“Passengers don’t just want to see a clean airport — they want to know it’s clean and they want to know it’s safe. Ultraviolet robots have been used in hospitals as a way to disinfect and kill microorganisms, so it is definitely something that makes sense for an airport,” Karolick said.

The scrubbers are modified versions of machines built by Danish firm Nilfisk. Carnegie has designed and manufactured artificial intelligence and robotic systems to map and clean the airport without human help.

They scour the floor surface with 88 lb/in of water pressure. Chemical disinfectant can be added to the process for a deeper clean and UV rays then pass over.

To instruct the robot, a worker drives the machine around the edge of an area and the onboard computer saves it to memory.

At the starting point, the press of a button sends it on its way and the robot automatically cleans the area.

Stereo cameras mounted on the front of the scrubbers detect obstacles and people, stopping the machine if its path is impeded.

The worker needs to change the water after about 150 minutes and recharge the battery after six hours.

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