The ways in which drones can be used for good just keeps expanding. The world’s largest drone manufacturer DJI has published an article describing how the company is modifying spraying drones to assist public health officials in China in the fight against the coronavirus.
The coronavirus has become a major health problem in China and around the world. In recent days, airports all over the globe are screening travelers for recent visits to China, and some airlines have now stopped direct flights. The death toll from the virus has topped 1,000 in mainland China, and communities are legitimately concerned about halting the spread of the virus, which can be transmitted person to person.
Chinese public health officials, and Chinese-based drone manufacturer DJI, have been willing to adopt new tools to meet the challenge. DJI has pledged their time, money and expertise to bring drone technology to the fight.
Together with agricultural technology think tanks, DJI has been working to fight the disease. On February 4, we pledged almost US $1.5 million in aid to help contain the outbreak. We have also adapted our Agras series of agricultural spraying drones to spray disinfectant in potentially affected areas. Drones can dramatically improve how China attempts to kill the virus in public areas: They can cover far more ground than traditional methods, while reducing risk to workers who would otherwise spend more time potentially exposed to both the virus and the disinfectant.
Drones for spraying offer many critical advantages, especially in an emergency – they can be up to 50 times faster than traditional methods, and they can keep human operators out of harms way. Relatively simple and inexpensive to operate, drones can be quickly mobilized. DJI recently demonstrated another humanitarian use of spraying drones in Tanzania, with the use of drones to help fight against malaria bearing mosquitos.
In addition to spraying disinfectant, drones have been used as a major tool for educating the public quickly. Drones mounted with loudspeakers or flying banners provided valuable information. Additionally, says DJI: “Thermal cameras on drones were also used to monitor body temperature so medical staff can identify new potential cases.”
With person-to-person infection, drone delivery could prove to be another aid in stopping the spread of the virus, the company says. Drone delivery will enable affected households to receive supplies without risking the spread of infection.
DJI were originators in the #DronesForGood movement. With the coronavirus response, they’re demonstrating new ways that drones can contribute to the problems communities face around the world. Romeo Durscher, Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, is quoted: “Assisting on the containment of a disease, while ensuring safety to personnel, was very difficult to do in the past,” said Durscher. “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.”