Each unit weighs approximately 50 pounds and can disinfect up to 20 acres per hour.

Photo by Eric Santoyo via Pexels

By Mario Cosentino

In the wake of COVID-19, the return of fans to large venues such as stadiums and concert halls raises concerns about sanitation and social distancing. One Pittsburgh company believes that their product could provide a solution.

The Wexford-based Aeras Fog Company has created an aerial drone that utilizes electrostatic technology and claims that it can quickly and effectively sanitize large venues such as Heinz Field in a matter of hours.

“We believe that, by overcoming one of the major challenges associated with [attending sporting events and live concerts and attending school], Aeras will help bring us all closer to sharing these experiences again,” said cofounder Eric Lloyd on the usefulness of disinfectant drones in a press release.

Electrostatic disinfection is the process of spraying an electrostatically charged mist onto surfaces and objects where traditional means of cleaning are less effective. The current process of dispersing the electrostatic spray involves workers using hand sprayers to disinfect a stadium on foot. This process exposes workers to potentially contaminated areas and can take as long as two days to complete.

Aeras’ drone technology, patent pending, is expected to do the same job in just three hours. The company claims that the spray can disinfect anything it touches, including the surfaces underneath seats, railings, and armrests. Developed by Environmental Surface Solutions, the disinfectant can create a protective barrier from COVID-19 and other airborne contaminants on all surfaces for as long as 90 days.

Each drone is mostly autonomous, meaning that it maps out the stadium and delivers the spray without assistance. It even recognizes when it is running out of disinfectant and promptly returns to an operator who refills its tank. After being filled, it returns to the spot where it left off.

While Aeras has not yet started to utilize their drones widely, the efficiency of the technology was showcased in a test run with water on Highmark Stadium near Station Square.

A test run was completed with water on Highmark Stadium. Video courtesy of Aeras Fog Company

Aeras hopes to have all needed certifications for their drones before the fall, just in time to aid in the return to school and other seasonal activities.

While other concerns must be addressed before concerts and professional sports make a full return, Aeras believes that their drones could provide a peace of mind in new normal times.

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