Fans are being welcomed back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium this month and the stadium is using cutting-edge technology to prepare for that — utilizing drones as part of its holistic cleaning protocol.

It is believed to be the first stadium to use the technology, which was developed by Lucid Drone Technologies in Charlotte, N.C. The company offers D1 disinfecting drones to sanitize key areas in a more efficient and effective manner than using stadium workers.

The drones have been tested as part of the sanitization process and will be implemented as the stadium prepares to host fans for the Atlanta Falcons home game against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 11.

“The process of welcoming fans back involves actively listening and responding to their concerns and we understand that proper cleaning and sanitization protocols are top of mind in the current environment,” said Dietmar Exler, COO, AMB Sports and Entertainment. “We have worked tirelessly to provide a safe environment for not only our associates, players and staff, but especially our fans.”

Officials said they were considering using drones prior to the pandemic, but the protocols associated with COVID-19 made them accelerate the process.

The drones utilize electrostatic spraying nozzles for even distribution of medical-grade disinfecting chemicals including an inhibitor that prevents harmful bacteria and virus to adhere to surfaces without leaving a residue. In addition, their unique, wrap-around effect helps distribute the disinfectant to hard-to-reach areas.

The non-toxic Hypochlorous Acid solution used is in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency for maximum effectiveness without being harmful.

The technology will be used for post-event disinfecting of the seating bowl, handrails, and glass partitions at the stadium. According to stadium officials, the drones allow for a 95 percent reduction in time spent cleaning the seating bowl and the ability to redeploy stadium workers in other areas of the stadium. The technology is also said to be 14 times more efficient than regular backpack foggers.

“This stadium is incredibly large and as we begin to slowly welcome fans back, these drones allow us to maximize the time between games and private events to thoroughly sanitize,” Jackie Poulakos, manager of building operations said. “We are always challenged by leadership to continually innovate and this new technology is the ideal solution to effectively disinfect and sanitize our stadium in an efficient manner.”

The drones are the newest addition to the extensive MBS cleaning and sanitization program, which includes daily cleaning using GenEon’s ionized solution that kills harmful germs and bacteria, while being safe for humans. Additionally, the stadium added a Sanitation Team for hourly disinfecting, 600 hand sanitizer dispensers and monthly anti-viral coating to help reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the virus.

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