Meet R2Key2, the nearly six-foot ultraviolet light-emitting robot that disinfects Key West International Airport.

Yes, the 300-pound cleaner now has a name.

The Star Wars-inspired name comes from an online contest sponsored by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. The TDC, which announced the winner last week, said it received 1,000 entries within six hours on Jan 14.

A panel of Florida Keys officials chose the winning name for the robot, which Monroe County bought last year for $100,000 and first put it to work in December to send a message that the airport is doing all it can to stay safe during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea Atkins, 35, an instructional coach for public school teachers from Bat Cave, North Carolina, came up with the winning name. There were 12 finalists.

No, she’s not a Star Wars fan. But as a special education teacher for 12 years, she would come up with puns, chants and songs to help students remember lessons.

“I’ve never even seen a single Star Wars ever,” said Atkins, who won a trip for two to Key West for her winning entry. “I just thought it was a funny pun.”

An ultraviolet light-emitting robot rolls in front of check-in counters at Key West International Airport on Feb. 2, 2021.

An ultraviolet light-emitting robot rolls in front of check-in counters at Key West International Airport on Feb. 2, 2021.

Atkins is a fan of the Keys.

“I just love all of the Keys,” she said. “The Keys have their own culture. It’s a completely different vibe than anywhere I’ve ever been.”

Kayaking is her favorite Keys activity, along with snorkeling and sampling the restaurants.

Key West is one of the first airports in the nation to acquire a cleansing robot, according to the TDC.

R2Key2 autonomously moves around the airport when people aren’t around, since the light it emits during the disinfection cycle is intense, the TDC said. The robot can disinfect the entire interior space in about 2 1/2 hours, “and supplements other cleanliness and passenger protection practices,” the TDC said.

The robot also plays music during its rounds at night while the airport is closed.

“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 Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron, a contest judge. “The robot is now keeping the Key West International Airport cleaner and safer for all who come through the Florida Keys.”

Other contest judges included Richard Strickland, Monroe County’s director of airports, and Bob Eadie, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County.

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