Virus-killing robots equipped with high-powered ultraviolet lights are being deployed to make American sports stadiums safe for fans in the age of Covid.
The Carolina Panthers are set to welcome 5,240 fans to their 75,523-capacity Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, for Sunday’s game against Arizona Cardinals.
Gov. Roy Cooper said on Wednesday September 30 that bars, entertainment venues and sports stadiums would be allowed to open with limited capacity from this week.
The stadium’s managers have bought in two LightStrike robots to sterilise the stadium before fans are admitted.
Eddie Levins, director of security and infectious control officer for the Carolina Panthers and Bank of America Stadium says the robots will ensure “people can feel safe coming in here again.”
"It's going to look kind of weird, but it does exactly what we need it to do, which is deactivate the virus," he added.
The LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots are made by Xenex Disinfection Services. The company explains that the robots use pulsed xenon to create intense bursts of broad spectrum UV light that, they say, will quickly destroy any viruses and bacteria on surfaces.
A Xenex spokesperson explained to Gizmodo that the ultra-bright lights could cause last eye damage and no one should be in the room while the robots are in operation.
“The purpose of the LightStrike robot is to quickly deactivate pathogens and provide a disinfected environment for the next player [or] person to enter that room,” they said.
The team will also be using two LightStrike Disinfection Pods – large boxes that can be used to zap players’ equipment with UV light before a game.
"We began using the robots to disinfect the locker rooms, weight room, rehab areas and offices during camp, and we've expanded utilisation throughout the building and throughout the stadium," Levins said.
"We can use it in suites, using it in any public space that we need a quick down-and-dirty sanitisation. We clean it, and then we disinfect it so it's ready to go, so people can feel safe coming in here again."