Drone Sanitization: Lucid Drone Technologies Takes Off With Major League, College Clients

Drone Sanitization

The Forced Pivot That’s Created A Whole New Market

Drone Sanitization
– Aerial Attack
A Lucid D1 Disinfecting Drone on duty at the home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC.

Drone technology, which has been around for years, has made getting eyes in the sky a cost-effective proposition. The unmanned fliers are used by law enforcement and fire departments and to assess the status and security of power lines, nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure.

Drones formed displays above Super Bowl LIV at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium earlier this year that wowed audiences and were put to impressive use again outside the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del., after Joe Biden was projected as the president-elect by major news outlets.

What cements drones’ status as a VenuesNow innovation for 2020, however, is the way they’re being used as a time- and money-saving means of disinfecting live event venues such as stadiums, arenas and convention centers in the battle against the coronavirus contagion.

A number of companies — Rantizo, EagleHawk and OMI among them — have swooped in to offer their services and products to beleaguered venue operators. One in particular, Charlotte, N.C.-based Lucid Drone Technologies, appears to be making headway in the industry with several clients leasing their D1 Disinfecting Drones.

Drones were already under consideration as a way of doing exterior cleaning at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta when the pandemic struck the U.S. 

Lucid’s engineers quickly adapted the company’s flying machines, which use a tethered hose and ground-based tank to clean windows and other hard-to-reach exterior surfaces, to carry 2 ½ gallons of disinfecting solution aloft to be sprayed onto surfaces using hydrostatic nozzles.

Two are now being used in Atlanta, said Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s building operations manager, Jackie Poulakos.

So, how has Lucid differentiated itself from other purveyors of disinfecting drones?

“It revolves around efficacy in difficult environments,” says Andrew Ashur, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “Traditionally speaking, drones tend to rely on GPS-based navigation to actually operate, because most drones are outside in open air, but when you are inside, generally speaking, but even more so in stadiums, you’re in these GPS-denied or restricted environments that are often filled with very high levels of interference.”

Lucid has developed a “user-friendly flight mode” that can work in places like inside a sports stadium, he said.

Having electrostatic spraying capability, which involves imparting a charge to ionize cleaning solution molecules to make them cover surfaces more efficiently, is another plus for Lucid, Ashur said.

“It’s certainly in demand. It’s one of the biggest buzzwords and technologies that I’m seeing right now,” he said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t overly difficult to integrate with our power system. It really provides a lot of extra value for the customer.”

The base pricing for leasing a Lucid D1 drone is $36,000 a year, Ashur said. Customers have reported being able to disinfect up to 20 times faster than using humans on the ground, he said.

Poulakos said the two drones leased by AMB Sports & Entertainment allow for quicker turnarounds and are cost-effective from a reduced staffing perspective. 

“The main reason that we got these drones, one of the main reasons, was to make sure that for back-to-back events, we are able to get through and disinfect properly with the little time we have,” Poulakos said. “We would have had to bring in additional staff” to properly disinfect without the drones.

The drones have also helped to uncover things that need attention in the seating bowl, she said.

Among Lucid’s clients are Baylor University and Texas A&M University, which leased one of the drones to disinfect portions of its Reed Arena.

“We’ve got the drone and we have some (electrostatic) backpack sprayers and with those it takes hours to spray the seats,” said Texas A&M production coordinator Blake Reynolds. “The drone cuts that time in half if not even more.”

With two spray nozzles attached, three or four rows of seats can be sprayed with one pass, Reynolds said.

Ashur said it’s gratifying to work with universities, given Lucid’s origins. He met another of Lucid’s three co-founders, Chief Operating Officer Adrian Mayans, on the Davidson College baseball team. 

He noted that in 2017, when Ashur and Mayans were sophomores, the team knocked off the University of North Carolina for a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals, where the squad bowed to national power Texas A&M, which ironically was Lucid’s first disinfecting drone customer. 

“Sports have been really important throughout our lives,” Ashur said, “and being able to make a meaningful difference in getting fans … back into the stadiums has been a great experience.”

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