As technology advances at a blistering pace, new products, ideas, and innovations seem to happen on the regular these days. From self-driving cars to surgery on a grape, technology, and, more specifically, computers and robots have come a long way. However, the next chapter of innovation in the field of robotics isn’t coming out of MIT or Stanford’s laboratories, but rather here, in Michigan, within our humble, local airport: the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Yes, while it is quite a shock to many, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is becoming the testing ground for cutting edge robotics. Known as the UVD Robot, the “World’s first fully autonomous mobile platform for UV technology” is stationed around baggage claims and security checkpoints where foot traffic is at its highest, the UVD Robot is designed to autonomously clean up after clients and passengers by emitting an ultraviolet light spectrum of 254 nanometers in length. The radiation, while harmless to humans, kills 99.99% of all pathogens, viruses, fungi, and bacteria, including COVID-19, on surfaces that passengers may make contact with.
While the UVD Robot is undoubtedly cool, it is only a part of Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s larger plan. Known as the “Fly Safe. Fly Ford.” campaign, the plan’s main goal is to provide the public a safe and secure way to travel by air. Apart from autonomous robots that can clean surfaces without the use of chemicals or directions from workers, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is also using ultraviolet light in other ways to contribute to a safer environment, such as to disinfect travelers’: shoes, belongings, wheelchairs, trolleys, and even whole rooms. As Tim Haizlip, director of maintenance for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, said in a press release dated August 12, 2020: “As we researched holistic solutions to combat the spread of COVID-19, it became evident UV technology has been proven in other industries to kill the virus, so we made the decision to test it at the Ford Airport.”
Aside from using cutting edge technology to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is also using more traditional methods to limit the spread of viruses and pathogens. They have erected protection guards around lines for cues and posted leaflets and signs to educate passengers about the potential risks within the airport. Overall, it seems that the Gerald R. Ford International Airport has pulled out all the stops to ensure passenger and worker safety when travelers “Fly Safe. Fly Ford.”