Q&A: Cleaning and Disinfecting Drones

CEO and self-professed nerd cites humanitarian reason for starting drone technology business

disinfecting drones tlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium is using disinfecting drones from Lucid Drone Technologies Inc. to sanitize key areas in the arena like the seats, handrails, and glass partitions. Image courtesy of Lucid Drone Technologies Inc.

The coronavirus pandemic has made new cleaning methods and equipment popular, including cleaning and disinfecting drones. However, eliminating germs was not the main motivation for the creation of Lucid Drone Technologies, according to company co-founder and CEO Andrew Ashur. Instead, it was worker safety. 

“We saw workers hanging off the sides of buildings, on lifts, ladders, and scaffolds, trying to clean multistoried properties. We were appalled that no one had found a safer way to clean these buildings by leveraging existing technology, so we set out to build drones that could clean above ground and relocate workers to the ground,” said Ashur. “We dreamed of a world where no one has to get injured or die by cleaning multistoried buildings, and our drones make that possible.”

Andrew AshurGrowing up, Ashur enjoyed building things, a skill that came in handy when he helped found Lucid Drone Technologies in the fall of 2017. The company manufactures both cleaning and disinfecting drones. Learn more about the benefits and uses of these drones in this Q&A. 

Q: What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting drones? 

A: The disinfecting drone is free-flying and features an on-board tank. It has two nozzles that spray disinfecting solution downward onto surfaces. The cleaning drone is tethered via hose to an on-ground cleaning system. It has a forward-facing nozzle that allows it to spray cleaning solutions onto building surfaces.

Q: What surfaces and heights are suitable for your cleaning drones? 

A: Our drones can clean all common building surfaces, such as windows, brick, stone, and all types of roofs such as cedar, shake, asphalt, and tile. As for height, right now we’re keeping it fairly limited as 99% of buildings are 10 stories and below, but we expect to be cleaning at greater heights in the future. 

Q: What type of cleaning/disinfection solution can your drones spray?

A: Just about any spray and dry disinfectant will work in our drones, as long as it doesn’t need to be wiped or rinsed. We recommend using solutions that are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) List N of disinfectants effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Environmentally friendly disinfectants, such as hypochlorous acid, are suitable for use in our disinfecting drones. 

Q: Who are your main clients? Are they requesting cleaning or disinfecting drones?

A: To date our main customers have been larger venues requesting disinfecting drones, such as athletic spaces, universities looking to disinfect their basketball arenas, indoor football practice fields, and professional sports stadiums. We’ve been concentrating on indoor environments. The cleaning drones have taken a back seat since the pandemic began. However, after demonstrating the disinfecting drone’s ability to reduce an organization’s liability and costs and increase its operational efficiencies, we have seen the awareness, appreciation, and demand for the cleaning drone skyrocket. We have a growing waiting list of customers eager for the return of the cleaning drone, and we are happy to say that it will be coming back in 2021.

Q: What are the benefits to using cleaning and/or disinfecting drones?

A: The benefits primarily fall into three main buckets: time savings, cost savings, and safety. On the time-savings front, our drones are able to clean and disinfect a multiple story structure faster than traditional methods. 

With regards to costs, there are three primary ways our drones reduce cost: 

Time savings: We have found that our cleaning drone completes jobs three to five times faster than traditional methods, which reduces the amount of time that each job takes.

Equipment savings: If you wanted to clean an eight-story building, like a hotel, you may need to rent a lift, which could cost roughly $10,000 a month, while using a drone can cost less than one-third of that monthly.  

Insurance savings: On average, the cost to insure an on-ground worker is 50% of the cost to insure an above-ground worker. Drones help relocate workers to the ground.

Drones increase worker safety not only by keeping them on the ground but also by guaranteeing a greater degree of separation between them and the chemical spray.

Q: Do you expect the demand for disinfecting drones to change after the pandemic or do you think there will still be a great need for this technology?

A: The common opinion we hear is that disinfecting is here and here to stay. For example, in the sports stadium realm, people are placing an increasingly high emphasis on knowing that the stadium has done everything in its best efforts to ensure a healthy environment for the fans. 

Q: What are the biggest challenges in using cleaning and disinfecting drones?

A: Mindset matters. We have a lot of experience training people to fly our drones who don’t have a technical background. Sometimes, though, there is an initial mental hurdle to overcome with adopting innovative technologies that solve old-school problems. However, when we train our customers, it is an incredibly rewarding experience to see that “light bulb moment” when they see just how easy the drones are to fly and what they are capable of doing. If people prefer not to operate the drones themselves, they can hire an individual or a company if they wish. 

Q: Have you always had an interest in drones? What inspired that interest?

A: I’ve always been a nerd of sorts and grew up loving to build things. My true interest and passion for drones, though, resulted from this business. If we reference our company’s inception story, we began from a place of humanitarian concern—we wanted to find a safer way to clean buildings. Drones just happened to be a great way to solve this problem. What I’m most passionate about is finding a way to serve others and make the world a better place through my actions. It has been incredibly rewarding to couple that passion with my love for technology and building.

Q: What is your vision for the future of this cleaning technology?

A: Our vision at Lucid is to elevate efficiency, safety, and humanity by building the most productive drones. We want our technology to enable properties to clean with greater efficiency, regularity, and safety. 

Posted On February 2, 2021

Kathleen Misovic

Managing Editor for CMM

Kathleen Misovic is managing editor for CMM. She has a degree in journalism and an extensive background in writing for print and digital media for various publications and associations. Contact her at [email protected].  

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