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Covid-19-killing robots begin patrolling at St Pancras International

Image credit: reuters

Robots equipped with coronavirus-killing ultraviolet (UV) lights have begun patrolling St Pancras International, one of London’s biggest train stations, in a bid to minimise the risk to travellers.

Created by US firm UVD Robots, the mobile, fully autonomous robots are designed to kill viruses and bacteria both on surfaces and in the surrounding air.

UV radiation has been shown to damage the genetic material of viruses, hampering their ability to replicate.

St Pancras has deployed the robots in its bathrooms and frequented corridors in order to maximise their effectiveness.

Heathrow Airport introduced a similar system in July to boost the confidence of passengers wary about the contagion risk of aviation.

St Pancras International is the ninth busiest railway station in the UK with 34.6 million entries and exits in the year to March 2019. Since the lockdown, rail usage has fallen dramatically with the government reporting a 70 per cent drop in usage.

“The main thing for us is to get the confidence of customers,” said Jay Newton, head of Stations Engineering and Operations for the High Speed One Channel tunnel rail link.

“We are the first train station to bring this type of technology in because we want to allow people to use a train station with confidence, use our retail units with confidence, and slowly get back to a normal way,” he told Reuters.

The robots’ use of ultraviolet light helps to minimise the need for chemical disinfectant as it can kill nearly 100 per cent of bacteria and viruses they encounter.

Their introduction comes as the UK debuts its Covid-19 contact-tracing app today following months of delay and questions about its effectiveness.

As the software is voluntary, its success will also depend heavily on how many people choose to download and use it.

An advertising campaign to promote the app will appear on television this evening with the strapline 'Protect your loved ones. Get the app'.

“We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

“With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

“We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.

“Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

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