COVID-19 has changed the whole world in a mere few months. Our new realities are vastly different from the carefree existence most of us took for granted in Australia. Whether you are working from home, homeschooling children or trying to navigate your way through the various government stimulus packages, life will be strange for quite some time to come. However, amongst the chaos, there are things to be hopeful about and signs that human innovation will prevail and a vaccine won’t be too far off.
More than 130 Australian companies have registered to manufacture PPE to address a worldwide shortage and scientists at the CSIRO have begun testing a vaccine. Joining the fight against COVID-19 are drones. Their contribution in a number of key areas in countries like China and France has already made a significant difference. Here’s how they’ve been making a difference.
Aerial Disinfection Spraying
Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world (after Italy and China) and like China, they have recently begun repurposing agricultural drones to fight the coronavirus. Contaminated surfaces are one of the main ways coronavirus is transmitted, so spraying public spaces with disinfectant is thought to reduce transmission. Aerial disinfectant spraying is far more efficient than hand spraying, so large areas can be covered very quickly. World Economic Forum noted on their website that:
“Compared with hand spray, drone spray has many advantages in terms of efficiency, consistency. Depending on the application, drone spray can be fifty times more efficient than people spraying.”
Drones are also being used to disinfect large vehicles, so humans can get on with more urgent tasks.
With large parts of the world in lockdown, leaving our homes (except for an essential reason) has become both illegal and socially irresponsible. However, people still need things – groceries, clothing, books and educational materials for example – so drones have become the perfect solution to ensuring people get what they need while limiting human contact.
Deliveries to homes aren’t the only flights drones are making. Drones have also been used to deliver critical supplies to hospitals and other primary care facilities. Of course, this isn’t the first time drones have been used to deliver goods. Drone delivery isn’t widely available in Australia yet, but as we reported in our Drone food delivery article last year, Wing is successfully delivering food, coffee, pet supplies, homeware and hardware amongst other goods, to many areas of Canberra.
China was the first country to deploy drones in order to monitor public spaces. Forbes notes that:
“Shenzhen company MicroMultiCopter deployed more than 100 drones to many Chinese cities that could patrol areas and observe crowds and traffic more efficiently”
People not wearing masks or not complying with stay at home orders could easily be identified and given warnings.
As the pandemic spread to Europe, drones were deployed in a similar way. Business Insider reports that loudspeaker drones have been seen in both Spain and France urging people to comply with health advice.
“The speakers can be heard blaring messages like: “Travel is prohibited unless there are exceptional circumstances.” or “Please respect the safety distances.”
No such drones have been spotted in Australia yet, but with calls to Crime Stoppers from people reporting quarantine rule breakers on the rise, you never know. Strange days indeed.