Swiss start-up trials UV light cleaning robots to make air travel safer

Switzerland-based tech startup Uveya is conducting trials of robots which use ultraviolet light to protect airline passengers from COVID-19.

Uveya tested the production version of the technology on the aircraft of Swiss regional carrier Helvetic Airways last month, in partnership with air services provider dnata.

During the cleaning process, an autonomous sterilization robot emits concentrated UV-C light, which has been used for 50 years to clean hospitals and laboratories. 

The device can effectively kill more than 99% of bacteria and pathogens, such as coronavirus, in the air and on all surfaces in a few minutes, without using any chemicals.

Uveya is now working with airlines and train companies on the use case, and looking for investors to deploy the solution at large scale.


There has been much debate about how to safely reopen the travel industry following the COVID-19 pandemic. This solution aims to enhance the wellbeing of passengers and crew to restore confidence in flying.  


The European Commission is working on the creation of an interoperable Certificate’ which will record proof that a person has either been vaccinated, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. 

Several European countries including Denmark, Sweden, France and Estonia are also trialling their own versions of vaccine passports to open up access to travel or other facilities. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a “global standard to securely record digital proof of vaccination”.  It has developed a Travel Pass app, which allows passengers to prove they are safe to fly by displaying a. negative COVID-19 test result. 

Emirates airline also ​recently announced it is​ to trialling the ​TrustOne​, a smartphone app that automates medical screenings of a company’s employees, guests, and passengers.

Meanwhile, the tech industry is creating solutions to make travel safer. Tech giant IBM has created a blockchain solution called Digital Health Pass, to enable organisations to verify citizens’ health credentials.

Also, a coalition of health and tech groups, including Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce, has formed The Vaccination Credential Initiative, to create an internationally accepted digital health card to store COVID-19 information such as test results or vaccination data.


Tristan Chevignard, business development manager of Uveya, said: “We are thrilled to explore the aviation market for our UVC disinfection solution with such renowned partners. We believe this collaboration will help assure aircraft are clean, safe and up to the high-level standards of this industry.”

Lukas Gyger, chief operating officer of dnata Switzerland, said: “Our enhanced cabin cleaning services will deliver enhanced safety and efficiency, helping our customers restore confidence in air travel.”

René Marmet, chief operating officer of Helvetic Airways, said: “By making available our infrastructure and fleet for testing, Helvetic Airways is significantly contributing to the development of a promising and innovative aircraft disinfection solution which aims to make air travel safer going forward.”

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