Drones In Domes—The 2020 Way To Sanitize Stadiums

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is shown before an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. The Seattle Seahawks won 38-25. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when workers walked through football stadium aisles after games picking up hot dog wrappers and empty cans of beer? That was so 2019. The COVID pandemic seems to have affected everything in life, including stadium clean-up techniques.

The Atlanta Falcons are turning to high-tech aerial technology in a new effort to clean their stadium in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting with the Falcons Oct. 11 game against the Carolina Panthers, the team plans to use the drone technology to spray down the stadium with sanitizing spray following the game.

The 71,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium partnered with Charlotte-based Lucid Drone Technologies for the D1 disinfecting drones as a way to quickly and efficiently sanitize the stadium. The plan is to use a pair of drones to clean the stadium, with a third mechanical bird on standby as a backup. The drones use electrostatic spraying nozzles for even distribution of a medical-grade disinfecting chemical that includes an inhibitor that prevents bacteria and viruses from adhering to surfaces without leaving a residue. According to Drone Technologies, the nontoxic hypochlorous acid solution is in compliance with EPA standards.

The drone technology will be used for post-event disinfecting of the stadiums seating areas, handrails and glass partitions. It is estimated the drones will speed up the stadium cleaning process by around 95%. “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,” said building operations manager Jackie Poulako in a release. “We are always challenged by leadership to continually innovate, and this new technology is the ideal solution to effectively disinfect and sanitize our stadium in an efficient manner.”

The drone technology is not the only new weapon in germ fighting for NFL teams, as the Carolina Panthers announced they are using a “germ-zapping robot” around their facilities. The Panthers have used the robots throughout the summer and plan to start using them before and after the team’s game this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
If those robots could find a way to replace Christian McCaffrey in the lineup and score touchdowns for the Panthers, they would probably sign them on the spot.

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