5 ways drones can help in a pandemic
Drones have played an important role in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Below, we have identified 5 ways that drones are being used in efforts to fight coronavirus.
In an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, the University of South Australia has teamed up with Draganfly Inc to develop Pandemic Drones which will use temperature sensors and computer vision to identify symptoms of infectious respiratory diseases. The new drones will be capable of remotely monitoring temperature, heart and respiratory rate as well as detecting coughing and sneezing at a distance of up to 10m. This will allow public spaces as well as crowded areas such as airports and healthcare facilities to be monitored and give researchers an accurate idea of how widespread a virus is.
Several Chinese drone makers have modified their agricultural drone models, which were originally intended to spray crops with pesticides, to spray disinfectant over large areas. Drone disinfection has proved to be an effective tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus as it allows for large spaces to be sterilized without the need for humans to enter an infected area and risk contracting the virus . These disinfecting drones have been used successfully in countries like China, Chile, Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates with Spain becoming the first European country to do so.
With most restaurants and cafes closed and the public urged to stay in their homes to halt the spread of coronavirus, the demand for food delivery services has never been higher. However, due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 more and more delivery services are opting for contactless delivery options to minimize the risk of exposing customers and delivery drivers to infection. Drones are an ideal solution for contactless food delivery and have been used successfully by e-commerce company JD to deliver food parcels to remote areas of China.
As more and more countries enter lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, drone technology has become an important tool in ensuring that members of the public are adhering to the strict measures put in place. Surveillance drones have been used in China since the early weeks of the outbreak to remind citizens of the quarantine measures and to enforce social-distancing rules. The trend has since gone global as more countries deploy drones fitted with loudspeakers to urge members of the public to remain in their homes and to enforce bans on public gatherings. In France and Spain, police have been testing surveillance drones to identify those who refuse to comply with lockdown restrictions.
The coronavirus outbreak has put increased pressure on health services across the world. The virus has caused greater demand for laboratory testing a well as an urgent need for personal protective equipment and devices to enable the remote monitoring of patients with milder symptoms. Drone delivery has proved to be a useful solution here as drones can be used to quickly transport samples from hospitals to laboratories, deliver essential protective equipment such as gloves and masks and bring medical devices to patients' homes to enable remote monitoring. This technology is currently being used successfully by companies like Antwork in China and Zipline in Ghana with plans to expand further.
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