The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been plaguing the world since the beginning of 2020. The Wuhan originated epidemic has been spreading all across the world with at least 70,548 cases reported and a death toll of 1,770. Entry and exit points of China and the rest of the world are on high alert since the onset of the virus. Passengers with matching symptoms are being quarantined and entire cities are being locked down to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Despite there being no cure yet, drones worldwide are helping contain the Coronavirus outbreak innovatively.
DJI Drones Join the Fight
DJI, the Chinese drone giant, is helping contain the Coronavirus outbreak. The company pledged $1.5 million on February 4, 2020, to aid in the containment process. In a press release, they highlighted that DJI’s Agras series of agricultural drones are being modified to spray disinfectant in public places. DJI’s agricultural technology could potentially help in the containment as its drones are nearly 50 times faster than ground-based workers. Furthermore, using drones to disinfect a public space reduces the hazard of workers being exposed to the virus and the disinfectant for long periods of time. Also, drones are comparatively cheaper to operate than manned workers in a hazardous area. DJI’s drones have already proven to be instrumental in aiding the outbreak of Malaria in Tanzania. The company’s agricultural spraying drones were used to directly attack mosquitoes and combat the disease.
DJI has already sprayed a chlorine/ethyl alcohol-based disinfectant in over 3 million square meters in Shenzhen. The company is helping over 1,000 more counties in China to adopt the drone spraying method to disinfect factories, residential areas, hospitals, and waste treatment plants. By implementing drone sprayers, DJI drones have covered 600 million square meters in total in the whole of China. For a critical world health emergency like the Coronavirus outbreak, drones can prove to be a life-saving tool.
“Assisting on the containment of a disease, while ensuring safety to personnel, was very difficult to do in the past,” said Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI. “This was a complete grassroots movement. Users inspired us to take action, and it was worth the effort. It embodies the DJI spirit, where anyone with the access to these new tools can help improve their environment and help society.”
Other Ways Drones are Helping Contain the Coronavirus Outbreak
Drones are being mounted with loudspeakers to relay instructions and disperse crowded areas. Banners are also being flown via drones to issue precautions. Additionally, thermal imaging sensors on drones are helping monitor body temperatures which is one of the key symptoms of the virus.
Drone delivery is another major aspect that is greatly impacting the spread of the virus. Since thousands are confined to their homes, companies can use UAVs to transport medical aid, food, etc. to the stranded victims without having to risk exposure. Terra Drone‘s group company, Antwork, has been delivering medical samples and protection material through its drone transportation network.
Apart from DJI, another Chinese company called XAG has set aside 5 million yuan ($711,905) to aid in the containment of the epidemic. XAG has set the funds aside to technically assist its agricultural drone users to carry out disinfection operations. The company aims to carry out drone disinfections especially in rural areas with insufficient healthcare facilities. Also, XAG’s agricultural drones aim to not only disinfect people and places but also vehicles moving in and out of the affected zones.