Introducing R2Key2, Key West Airport’s coronavirus-fighting robot

The hard-working, nearly 6-foot-tall coronavirus-fighting robot that has been disinfecting Key West International Airport’s interior spaces since December 2020 finally has a name, thanks to an online contest.

R2Key2 at Key West Airport
Photos courtesy of Key West International Airport

The “name the robot” contest on Jan. 14, 2021, attracted 1,000 entries (its maximum limit) in about six hours. The winning name—R2Key2—was submitted by Chelsea Atkins of Bat Cave, N.C., and salutes both an iconic Star Wars robot and the unit’s Keys location.

Atkins’ name was chosen by a committee of Florida Keys officials from a dozen finalists. She won a Key West vacation that includes two airline certificates on JetBlue and accommodations at The Gates Hotel Key West for three nights plus attraction passes from the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Historic Tours of America, and Sebago Watersports.

The contest was part of the Florida Keys tourism council’s initiative to promote directives and safety protocols in place in the Keys to combat COVID-19, including mandatory masking requirements.

“While naming the robot is lighthearted in its nature, what we really are concerned about, and make a priority here in the Florida Keys, is protecting the health of our residents and our tourists,” said Keys Mayor Michelle Coldiron, who helped judge submissions and is also a tourism council board member. “The robot is now keeping the Key West International Airport cleaner and safer for all who come through the Florida Keys.”

Key West Airport robot

Key West International was among the first airports in the U.S. to implement the unique robots designed to remove 99.9% of harmful airborne and surface pathogens, including the novel coronavirus, by emitting high-intensity ultraviolet UV-C wavelength light.

R2Key2 patrols the terminal and other interior spaces autonomously during nighttime hours after the airport closes to the public. It can disinfect the entire interior space in approximately 2.5 hours and even plays music while making its rounds.

Check out this video of R2Key2 in action:

Watch Coronavirus Killing Robot Patrol Key West Airport

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