Even before the coronavirus outbreak impacted every aspect of our daily lives, innovative drone use was making significant breakthroughs in a wide variety of industries. From retail to their increasing adoption by industrial and manufacturing firms, drones are becoming commonplace.
But as hospitals, companies, and municipalities learn how to operate under new social-distancing guidelines, drones have become even more useful and are being used for a number of unique tasks.
Innovative Drone Applications
- Conducting site surveys for solar installations. Companies requiring a full survey of an install site can now use drones to identify and map chimneys, vents, or other penetrations that might impede or prevent installation while maintaining a safe distance from residents within the home.
- Educating residents of rural South African communities about Covid-19 preventive measures while monitoring potential hot spots within the same areas. Drones make announcements via loudspeakers as they pass overhead, switching between the local languages of Tsonga and Sepedi.
- Disinfecting hot-spot high-infection areas using UVC lights. This is being done by a drone made by Digital Aerolus that damages the DNA or RNA of a pathogen, thus destroying it. The drone is operated remotely to protect the operator both from the dangerous UVC light and from possible pathogens.
- Delivering food using Alphabet’s Wing drone delivery service. This service is available in limited markets around the world, including Australia, Finland, and Virginia. Deliveries arrive in as little as a few minutes.
- Limiting travel across borders and within cities. Companies like KazUAV in Kazakhstan have used drones to remotely monitor their closed-down borders and cities to combat viral spread.
- Delivery of test samples, medication, and PPE. Several partnerships between the NCDOT and private partners are leading to initiatives to deliver PPE, medication, and other important medical tests via drone.
- Pollination of crops. In response to the COVID-related labor shortage, Israeli date farmers in the Jordan Valley turned to drones to pollinate their crops by air.
Additionally, the town of Westport, Connecticut had early plans to identify sick residents using Draganfly drones. Temperature sensors onboard could identify elevated body temperature. Cameras recorded other signs of infection like heavy coughing. But the town scrapped the plan after privacy concerns arose. However, this kind of technology was used in other locations around the world including in China’s Liaoning Province.
Other uses of Drones during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Drones have captured changes to the Earth and our cities during this time, too. This includes footage of dugongs (marine mammals that are similar to manatees)cruising off the coast of Libong Island near Thailand, videos of empty city streets and centers, videos of sea turtles thriving on empty beaches, and footage showing startling changes in water and air quality.
Some people have even used drones to walk their dogs during coronavirus lockdowns.
This pandemic is not the first time drone technology has fought back against disease or helped in a time of crisis. In fact, the drone spray technology used to disinfect city centers during the COVID-19 crisis built from original plans for combatting Zanzibar’s malaria problem.
As we continue to adapt to this new distanced normal, we will see more innovative drone use.
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