Robots delivering food and supplies to quarantined COVID-19 patients in Chinese hotels, while indisputably strange and sci-fi, makes perfect sense. Now robots, outfitted with virus-killing ultraviolet (UV) light systems, have been enlisted at London Heathrow airport in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, the BBC reports. Here, the short, rounded robots — which bring to mind R2D2 — cruise the terminals and enter areas like restrooms (when unoccupied, of course) to disinfect them with powerful UV light (which is also harmful to human skin, hence the provision restrooms be unoccupied.) In the video below, the host describes the airport’s other virus-fighting measures, including retrofitting escalators with UV-light sanitation systems and placing anti-viral coatings on high-touch areas such as escalator handrails and lift buttons.
An elevator owner in Japan posted a few pictures recently showing how he is adapting to a new COVID-19 world, SoraNews24 says. One photo, titled, “You Never Know Who’s Been in There Before You,” shows a group of passengers apparently dressed as COVID-19 as if for Halloween, standing ominously inside an elevator cab. It’s actually pretty funny. The other is more utilitarian, showing blocks of Styrofoam holding scores of toothpicks next to the elevator button panel and outside the elevator. The second, toothpick picture, raised a few issues with this scenario, such as the toothpicks being too closely packed together, and the fact that someone sneezing or coughing on them could ruin the whole lot. The best suggestion: “One of the toothpicks should have ‘winner’ written on it, like popsicle sticks do, and then get a prize.
As the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, China has taken numerous steps to try to contain the spread of the disease. Elevators have been one focal point in the country’s efforts. For example, the photos above sent by ELEVATOR WORLD Correspondent Peng Jie show elevator buttons covered with plastic wrap to protect them from twice-daily spraying of disinfectant, plus record sheets on the wall to certify the cleaning has been done. Peng tells us, “We have been affected in work and daily life since January. Schools and universities remain closed, the same with restaurants and most shops. People are advised to stay at home and go out as [little] as possible. Temperatures are measured everywhere.”
The South China Morning Post reports that people are using objects — such as lighters, or even toothpicks — to press elevator buttons. The article notes that some buildings have adopted voice-controlled systems. Giving a nod to “the most innovative solution so far,” the newspaper relates that holographic buttons are in use in at least one elevator in the eastern city of Hefei. Riders simply press the “button” for their floor. The maker of the system, Easpeed, said it has received more than 100 orders for its touchless elevator button system, which sells for about US$2,163.
On a promising note, KOYO Elevator posted on its LinkedIn page the photo below along with a note that its factory in Kunshan, China, has resumed production, adding, “The epidemic in China has been effectively controlled,” and that company leadership “attached great importance to the timely shipment of goods.”