Toronto’s PIA introduces robots, high tech in cleaning operations

Jun 23, 2020 | Biz/Tech

Autonomous Cleaner introduced on Tuesday June 23, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport as a part of the GTAA’s Healthy Airport program. (Courtesy GTAA)
Harmony Multani

Air travel has always been somewhat futuristic. Airports serve visitors from every country on the globe, and travellers sit in a flying pod to be transported thousands of kilometres to another place. 

As COVID-19 continues to pose health risks for travellers and airport staff, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority today launched its Healthy Airport program to help keep patrons visiting Toronto’s Pearson International Airport safe.

“Toronto Pearson is an international leader in the aviation sector, having set the standard for exceptional passenger service among large North American airports for three years in a row,” Deborah Flint, President and CEO of the GTAA, said in a press release on Tuesday, June 23. 

“As government restrictions on air travel begin to be lifted and flights increase, Toronto Pearson is ready, and we are intent on exceeding international standards,” she said. 

A trip to the airport may start to feel a little like visiting the future as these changes are implemented.

The GTAA said in its June 23 press release its five-point Healthy Airport commitment includes what it describes as the “highest standards for cleaning and hygiene, clear communications and the introduction of innovative technology advancements.”

One of these innovative technology enhancements are Autonomous Floor Cleaning Machines. In other words, floor cleaning robots. 

“The floor cleaners use advanced technology to map areas before cleaning to avoid obstacles, both large and small,” Tori Gass, senior communications manager with GTAA, said in an email statement. “It features a separate sensor system that overrides the autonomous cleaning system and stops the machine in its tracks if a hazard is detected.”

GTAA is also piloting a spray down corridor for passengers and staff to disinfect their clothing and baggage when leaving the airport.

“This spray-on sanitizer/disinfectant is totally non-toxic, being 99.5% water,” Gass said. “Passengers can choose to use the feature, as it offers an added layer of protection, but it is not a requirement.”

Today’s press release states Pearson Airport has installed industry recommenced MERV-13 air filters, and an air quality monitor will be on display for patrons to view. 

These and other innovative measures will remain in place well beyond the COVID-19 outbreak, and will support other protective measures like wearing masks, and regular sanitization, Gass said.

“In the future, many will find some of the new features, will speed-up their travel experience and create long-lasting change that leads to more comfortable and enjoyable travel,” she said.

All information provided was obtained from a press release issued by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority on June 23, 2020. The information highlights four of the GTAA’s many initiatives to keep travellers safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.