SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio International Airport has become the first airport in the world to deploy a Xenex LightStrike robot — an R2-D2-like mechanism that disinfects surfaces from SARS-CoV-2.
Airport officials on Wednesday announced it purchased the “only ultraviolet room disinfection technology proven to deactivate” the virus that causes COVID-19 to protect employees and travelers.
The LightStrike sends bursts of UV light to kill viruses and bacteria on common surfaces and hard-to-reach spaces, a news release stated. It’s often used in the healthcare industries as a way to disinfect high-touch surfaces from pathogens that may cause infections.
LightStrike — created by San Antonio-based Xenex — was tested at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, airport officials said.
Research found the robot destroyed SARS-CoV-2 in two minutes, according to airport officials. LightStrike will disinfect areas within 10-15 minutes.
Airport staff will be able to use the portable robot around jet bridges, gate areas, counters, baggage claim, restrooms and other high-traffic areas.
“I am excited to see the use of innovative technology at the airport to address the ever-evolving challenges in the fight against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in the news release. “Our aviation team’s forward-looking moves, such as using this UV disinfection technology and partnering with San Antonio-based Xenex, will position our city well for economic growth now and in the years to come.”
The airport plans on holding a naming contest for the robot via social media.