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Disinfecting drones flying at State Farm Arena

State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, has implemented the latest in drone technology as a part of the venue’s cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

The award-winning arena in Atlanta, Georgia, has enlisted Lucid Drone Technologies, a cutting-edge drone company based out of Charlotte, NC and its D1 Disinfecting Drone (D1) to help in sanitizing the 17,500 seat venue between events, a first for any NBA arena.

The approximately 27-pound drone holds a 10-litre tank of cleaning solution and is equipped with multiple sets of batteries and a custom charger to allow for continuous cleaning cycles.

At full charge, the D1 can cover 150,000ft2 in an hour, making the total time to disinfect State Farm Arena one-and-a-half hours. Unlike most drone systems, which are based on GPS based navigation and do not work well indoors, the D1 is programmed using an indoor flight mode, and is built specifically to dispense disinfectant products, rather than taking pictures and videos.

Geoffrey Stiles, senior vice president, facilities and events for the Hawks and State Farm Arena, said:

With the health and safety of everyone that enters State Farm Arena as our primary concern, we are continually looking for new ways to improve processes and achieve the highest standard of operational efficiency possible. The use of Lucid’s technology has allowed some of our staff to develop a new skillset, while others have been redeployed to new tasks in the arena for better use of our manpower.

Operating the D1 involves a two-person team: one pilot and one safety spotter. The pilot is responsible for flying the drone and dispensing the disinfectant solution, while the safety spotter is connected to the pilot via headset, allowing the spotter to constantly relay important flight information regarding safety, efficiency, and effectiveness.

As part of the D1 implementation, several of the arena’s current staff are becoming certified drone pilots.

Due to Covid protocols, State Farm Arena is currently at 8% capacity for Hawks home games. Two weeks ago, the NBA announced that the Atlanta venue would now host the 2021 NBA All-Star game on Sunday, March 7, previously scheduled for Indianapolis.

The annual weekend-long event has been truncated to one day of festivities and will be invite-only with a similarly reduced number of attendees.

The second half of the 20-21 NBA season schedule has the Hawks returning to their home court on Saturday, March 13 versus the Sacramento Kings.