As robots and drones are being increasingly used around the world to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian company Draganfly has announced a collaboration to produce so-called "pandemic drones" with the Australian Department of Defense and the University of South Australia, reports Business Insider.
The drones are equipped with cameras and sensors with special health monitoring capabilities, as the company’s video demonstrations show the quadcopters using computer vision systems and collecting information about heart rate, temperature, and respiratory conditions to zoom in on those displaying symptoms of COVID-19, such as sneezing or coughing.
In a statement, Draganfly said that the drones, remotely controlled by operators, would likely be used for venues attracting large crowds, such as cruise ships and conventions.
Draganfly working with the Australian DoD and University of South Australia to deploy special “pandemic drones” that can detect coughing, sneezing, respiratory rate, and even fever from a distance #COVID19Pandemicpic.twitter.com/QgyO7oYrPo— Sana Jamal (@Sana_Jamal) April 2, 2020
With the project boasting an initial budget of $1.5 million, the technology has benefits for use with vulnerable populations, such as nursing home facilities, and could potentially be employed to enhance security around borders or critical infrastructure.
"We had imagined the technology being used in a future relief expedition to some far-away place. Now, shockingly, we see a need for its use in our everyday lives immediately" Dr. Javaan Chahl, defense science and technology chair at the University of South Australia was quoted by the outlet as saying.
In 2013, the Draganflyer was the first drone to save a human life! Years later, we’re still leaders in using drone technology to keep the public safe. We work with partners to identify unknown substances, spills, packages, and chemicals. pic.twitter.com/uiLkZuKjZO— Draganfly Inc. (@DraganflyInc) April 3, 2020
As time is of the essence amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread globally, with over 1 789 985 confirmed cases, according to data by the Johns Hopkins University, Draganfly says it is accelerating efforts to begin distribution and secure a supply chain for commercialization as soon as possible.