‘R2D2’ adds “extra layer of comfort” on campus

Mr. Cassler

Esteban Serrano, Lead Editor

You may have heard of a robot that vacuums your floor, serves you food, harvests your crops, or maybe even checks you out at the grocery store. But what about one that disinfects your entire school? In fact, one that could disinfect an entire hospital in less than an hour.

Central Catholic has recently installed a state-of-the-art disinfecting robot called that has been named R2-D2, to help combat COVID-19, and limit exposure from surfaces on campus. According to the Xenex website, “LightStrike™ uses a patented Pulsed Xenon UV light system that produces UV across the entire germicidal spectrum (200-315 nm), deactivating the pathogens at the wavelengths where they are most susceptible.” It sounds complicated, but it is much more simple than you might think.

Nurse Patsy Galvan Soto, present on campus at Central Catholic, talks about the robot from her experience with it. “It’s normally used in hospitals,” she says. “The ultra light itself kills any super bugs or bacteria that’s on hard surfaces. We’re using it in more of the populated areas or higher-risk areas like the boy’s bathrooms, the cafeteria, the Convocation Center over in the gym and then of course… once we know there has been a COVID case, we go into the classrooms and clean it at least one time.”

“It’s a quick and easy clean…” Nurse Patsy says. “Each time you do it, it’s two minutes so it just depends on the size of the room. It can go anywhere from two minutes up to ten minutes.”

Interestingly enough, the Xenex Company is based right here in the Alamo City. It’s inaugural year was 2009, but moved to 281 and Bitters here in San Antonio in 2012. Melinda Hart is a spokesperson for the company, and even took time to talk with me about different technologies, its use at Central Catholic, fun facts, and the future of their company.

“Interestingly, when the pandemic began, one of the first things we did was engage Texas Biomedical Research Institute here in San Antonio, to test our robot against SARS-COV-2,” Hart says. In a hospital, Hart says, “The studies show that less than half the surfaces in that room are disinfected. That means when you think about a tray table, or a bed rail, or a nurse call button, or remote control, even after the room has been cleaned by the hospital cleaning team… half the surfaces in that room still have contamination on them.”

“…their studies show the robot was able to achieve a 99.99% level of disinfection. So we killed 99.99% of the virus within two minutes,” Hart continued.

Hart has been present on campus in the past, and has observed demonstrations in various places around Central’s campus. “We came in… and needed to shoot some video for a TV story, and so Central Catholic was kind enough to let us come in and we disinfected the front office, then we went into the locker room and the weight room and the gym…”

As Nurse Patsy said, the hospital is the place where the robot is primarily used. Now, the robot is showing up in many other real, and in fact fictional places.

“Hotels, schools, jails, and police stations, The Carolina Panthers pro sports team, (NFL) also being used in airports; We are at the San Antonio International Airport… and then they’re being used in food processing facilities.” A lot of places now making use of the effect bot, Hart also says large corporations are taking part in it, adding, “there is a tremendous interest now, outside of health care, (facilities) to be able to quickly disinfect surfaces.” Hart also adds that many foreign countries impacted by COVID-19, have also been using robots to clean areas.

Hart expands on the Carolina Panthers using the company’s robot during their training camp, and around multiple team facilities. “The Carolina Panthers have three of our robots,” she says. “Their infection control officer when to talk with hospitals in the area. He said “I want my locker room, stadium, and the player conference room clean, what do I do for it to be as clean as an operating room?” All the hospitals told him, “we use the LightStrike Robot.” They then contacted us and bought robots.”

Fans of the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy will also get a kick out of this. “Grey’s Anatomy, the TV show, is using our robot this season. They named theirs ‘Violet.”

Hart then talks about the future of the company. “There’s a huge opportunity for us in pro sports, especially now as the NBA is getting ready to resume,” she says. “We worked with the (Carolina) Panthers which was awesome, and then Grey’s Anatomy called and then Chicago-Med wanted a robot. It is really exciting for us as a company for people to be aware of a technology that can help when there is so much tragedy going on in the world.”

Of course with all this, Hart recommends to follow CDC guidelines and wash your hands, wear a mask, and social distance. Hart saying, “it is important to listen to medical experts.” If you own a company or are attempting to slow the spread of COVID-19 in your building, below is a link to the company’s website, which has plenty of information on the robot itself, how it’s operated, impressive statistics, studies, and much more.


courtesy of Xenex Disinfection Services
courtesy of Xenex Disinfection Services
courtesy of Xenex Disinfection Services
courtesy of Xenex Disinfection Services