The novel coronavirus has sent the entire world in turmoil. It has been rightly called the black swan of 2020. Probably, for the first time, an epidemic has made the world’s economy come to a halt. According to a Turkish expert, the global tourism industry could face a loss of 1 trillion dollars due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Countries across the globe are still battling this virus; no one knows when this crisis will end. A complete lockdown has been initiated in most major economies for weeks to come. All the necessary measures are being taken to control the pandemic and flatten the COVID-19 infection curve.
The virus has ushered in a ‘new normal’ where both businesses and people are trying to adapt. Streets across major cities are empty and ‘remote working’ has become the norm.
Technology (eg. international travel) is one reason why the virus has spread so quickly because the world is better connected than ever before. But it is also our technology that can help us to get things back to normal.
Drones are proving to be a potent weapon against COVID-19. Countries like India and China are using drones to enforce lockdowns and for aerial disinfection of high-risk areas.
Many drones startups have extended their support to government agencies in this fight. For example, a startup called FlytBase is giving their FlytNow Pro for free to those who are at the forefront of this battle. FlytNow is a cloud-based solution that allows drone operators to control and manage a large fleet of drones by leveraging 4G/5G connectivity.
5 Ways Drone Could Help Fight COVID-19
Now coming to the question of how drones can fight this outbreak. Here are five ways drones can be useful:
1. Patrolling and Aerial Monitoring
With a lockdown in place across the globe, authorities can deploy a fleet of drones to monitor human activities and warn offenders. Major commercial centers in a city can be monitored using drones with minimum health risks to public authorities.
Drones come with various attachments that allow them to carry a payload. A drone carrying a loudspeaker, siren or a beacon can warn the general public to not venture outside their homes.
As per the news, recently authorities in India have used FlytNow to monitor and stream live video of critical locations where the infection is widespread. In Mumbai, India, police are using drones to monitor the streets and catching offenders who are ignoring the lockdown.
2. Package Delivery
Health and safety workers who are at the forefront of this battle are at a high risk of infection. Drones can minimize human interaction in giving important services related to food and medicine.
Drones can be used to carry payloads from one location to another. A fleet of drones, powered by a cloud-based solution like FlytNow, can carry critical medical supplies to places where infections are high without putting the health of workers at risk.
China is already using drones to transport test samples of quarantined people to avoid unnecessary human contact. The test with drones for delivery began in Feburary, a drone loaded with medical supplies and samples took off from People's Hospital of Xinchang County and flew to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a journey that would have taken 20 mins by road was completed in 6 minutes.
A fleet of drones can cover large swaths of land in relatively less time. With a special attachment, called an air atomizer system, drones can be programmed to automatically spray disinfectant within a defined area.
Operations of such a kind require an intelligent system like FlytNow, that allows drone operators to design flight plans and execute offloads with great precision.
4. Emergency Response
Drones can be deployed as the first responders during an emergency; assessing the situation by providing a live video feed to the drone operators. Operators can then take a call on whether to send human responders to handle the situation. This will ensure unnecessary human interactions are prevented while ensuring real-time situational awareness.
5. Thermal Scanning
Fever is one of the common symptoms of COVID infection. Places like airports and railway stations are high-risk zones because infected people traveling will push the world further into the grips of COVID-19.
Drones equipped with thermal cameras can keep an eye for people with unusual body temperatures, thus aiding health workers to quickly identify and quarantine all possible suspects.
Civil aviation authorities across the world are responding quickly as they understand that cooperation between the public and private sectors is vital in winning this battle.
Drones are turning out to play a key role in the battle against COVID-19. As the world learns from this epidemic, the regulatory framework around drone technology will likely propel the commercial drone industry to rapid growth in the coming years.