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Web Contest to ‘Name’ Coronavirus-Fighting Robot at Key West Airport Ends

Virus Outbreak-Robot
In this image taken with a remote camera provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, an ultraviolet light-emitting robot rolls in an active mode in a men’s bathroom at Key West International Airport Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in Key West, Fla. Key West is among first airports in the country to take delivery of the apparatus that is programmed to flood areas with UV light to kill COVID-19 and other viruses after initial area mapping. The UV light is so bright that the robot can only be used when people are not present. For the Key West airport, it will supplement other manual disinfecting techniques. (Steve Panariello/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

KEY WEST, Fla. – The contest to name a coronavirus-fighting robot that patrols the interior spaces of Key West International Airport concluded Thursday evening after the 1,000-entry limit was achieved.

The online contest opened at about 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday and ended some six hours later.

Twelve finalists are to be randomly selected from the 1,000 entries, with the winner to be chosen by a committee composed of Florida Keys and airport officials. The winning robot name is to be released by early February.

The contest is to award a Key West vacation to the entrant whose robot name is chosen. The trip includes two airline certificates on JetBlue and accommodations at The Gates Hotel Key West for three nights. The prize also includes attraction passes from the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Historic Tours of America and Sebago Watersports.

When activated, the robot emits high-intensity ultraviolet UV-C wavelength light designed to remove 99.9% of harmful airborne and surface pathogens including the novel coronavirus. Key West International is among the United States’ first airports to implement the unit, which stands nearly 6 feet tall and augments the airport’s other cleanliness and passenger protection practices.

The contest is part of the Florida Keys tourism council’s educational initiative to promote directives and safety protocols in place in the Keys to combat COVID-19, including mandatory masking requirements.

“This (the contest) gives us another opportunity to let our visitors know how serious that we are about protecting them and our residents from getting COVID,” said Keys Mayor Michelle Coldiron, who is also a tourism council board member. “We want to remind everyone to mask up and be safe and healthy when they come to visit us.”

Manufactured by UVD Robots, the robot moves around the airport autonomously when people are not present, since the light it emits during the active disinfection cycle is intense.

Officials said the robot can disinfect the entire airport’s interior spaces in approximately 2.5 hours.