Virus Killing Robots May Help the Airline Industry Relaunch International Travel


In a pre-pandemic world, airplanes were considered a pretty germy place — we even wrote a germ-free guide to using airplane bathrooms at one stage. But soon, plane interiors could be as sterile as a hospital operating theatre, with the development of some revolutionary new tech.

A new robot from a Swiss start-up UVeya that has the ability to kill viruses and disinfect an airplane is currently being developed and tested for mass use.

Using UV light that emanates from a crucifix-shaped frame, the robot makes its way slowly down the plane aisle while the blue light kills viruses like COVID-19 and bacteria with 99% efficacy. In 13 minutes, an entire single-aisle plane is germ-free. Larger aircraft would take a little longer.

“This is a proven technology, it’s been used for over 50 years in hospitals and laboratories, it’s very efficient,” UVeya co-founder Jodoc Elmiger said according to Reuters. “It doesn’t leave any trace or residue.”

Before the tech is distributed for commercial use, scientists first need to test the impacts of the light on seat upholstery, which could fade after many disinfections. But a faded seat seems like a small price to pay for peace of mind in the air.

Once approved, the germ-killing robots could be available to airlines for 15,000 Swiss francs (AU $20,900).

The tech could indeed help the relaunch of international travel in a post-COVID world, while simultaneously alleviating the load for flight attendants and cleaners between trips.

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