The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, has become the first professional sports stadium to debut drones for disinfecting fan seats after events, The Verge reports. The company announced the implementation of multiple Lucid Drone Technologies vehicles on Thursday. The chief operating officer Dietmar Exler says:
The process of welcoming fans back involves actively listening and responding to their concerns and we understand that proper cleaning and sanitization protocols are top of mind in the current environment. We have worked tirelessly to provide a safe environment for not only our associates, players and staff, but especially our fans.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, sports events, concerts, restaurants, and other major venues have had to execute a serious overhaul of how they conduct their day-to-day business. With the Mercedes Benz stadium using drones to clean up surfaces, railings, seats, and more, other professional stadiums will most likely implement the same procedures.
Of course, that does nothing to address airborne transmission, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increasingly argues is the primary concern, not surface-based transmission. It won't make us any more inclined to head to a sporting event, that's for sure. But we hope these sorts of solutions continue to be used after the pandemic, for the sake of cleaning staff at least.
How do these drones work? — The drones use electrostatic spraying nozzles in order to evenly dispense disinfecting chemicals on physical surfaces. These chemicals are medical-grade material, according to Mercedes-Benz, and they don't leave any sticky residue behind, luckily enough.
What's even more helpful, especially in the case of massive venues, is that Lucid drones are able to reach difficult and tight spots in the arena. And if you're wondering about the spray material, the company is using non-toxic hypochlorous acid, which complies with the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines.
The new normal — With the help of these drones, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is able to cut down on cleaning time by 95 percent. This doesn't mean that everything is back to normal or that hordes of passionate fans will be able to squeeze themselves into the venue — the company is eager to mention that they're "slowly" bringing operations back to how it was pre-coronavirus.
The manager of building operations, Jackie Poulakos, explained, "This stadium is incredibly large and as we begin to slowly welcome fans back, these drones allow us to maximize the time between games and private events to thoroughly sanitize."
From delivering kidney transplants across Nevada, bringing medical equipment to patients miles away to now cleaning a stadium up, drones are proving to be helpful sidekicks in the COVID-19 world. As long as they don't invade our privacy, we don't mind getting used to this. But we're still going to wait for a vaccine before heading to any sporting events, concerts, or other stadium events.