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San Antonio International Airport Buys Robot That Can Kill Viruses And Bacteria, Including COVID-19

The Xenex LightStrike robot fires bursts of intense UV light to destroy viruses and bacteria. The San Antonio International Airport recently purchased the robot.
Courtesy of Xenex
The Xenex LightStrike robot fires bursts of intense UV light to destroy viruses and bacteria. The San Antonio International Airport recently purchased the robot.

San Antonio International Airport is the first airport in the world to purchase and employ the Xenex LightStrike robot that kills COVID-19.

“The health and safety of our employees and passengers has always been our number-one priority,” said Jesus Saenz, Jr., Director of Airports for the City of San Antonio.

“The acquisition of the Xenex LightStrike robot is just the latest innovative enhancement to our daily operations and efforts to ensure that traveling through San Antonio International Airport is the easiest and safest experience passengers can encounter.”

The robot fires bursts of intense UV light at 67 Hz to destroy viruses and bacteria found in in high touch areas and hard-to-clean spaces. The frequencies is outside the range of frequencies known to trigger photosensitive epileptic events.  

According to Xenex officials, the robots have safely been operated more than 24 million times and somewhere in the world there's a room being disinfected by a Xenex robot every 4.6 seconds.

The technology is also used in healthcare facilities to destroy microscopic pathogens.

In testing performed at San-Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the robot destroyed SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — in two minutes.

Using environmentally-friendly pulsed xenon, the portable robot can disinfect an area in less than 10–15 minutes.


The airport’s terminal services staff can use it on jet bridges, gate areas, ticketing counters, baggage claim, concessions, elevators and restrooms.

In 2012, the City of San Antonio recruited Xenex’s headquarters and manufacturing operations from Austin to San Antonio.

“I am excited to see the use of innovative technology at the airport to address the ever-evolving challenges in the fight against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.  “Our aviation team’s forward-looking moves, such as using this UV disinfection technology and partnering with San Antonio-based Xenex, will position our city well for economic growth now and in the years to come.”

The robot joins other virus-fighting measures already in place at the airport.

“We are excited to add the LightStrike to our current health enhancements to complement our sanitation stations, social distancing measures and other safety protocols.  We are proud to be a leader in the aviation industry when it comes to health and safety and to be the first airport to employ the LightStrike.”

The airport plans to hold a city-wide naming contest to name the robot.


Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

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