Over the past few years, airborne drones have made their mark in virtually every corner of the world. They’re now used to perform all types of jobs, ranging from enterprise solutions to governmental work. The public is generally most aware of them as a tool for delivering packages, but like their robotic cousins, which have been responsible for numerous significant changes in the business, governmental, medical, manufacturing, and law enforcement industries, drones are actively proving that they can be considered the devices for handling a lot of tasks, especially those that can’t be performed by humans.
Case in point: the possibility of getting involved in the current coronavirus epidemic by detecting possibly infected individuals in large crowds of people. Much like the unnoticeable cameras mounted on poles and electric lines in major metropolitan areas that take photos of automobile license plates, the drones are able to survey and even examine people from high above.
“Our drones, which can be fitted with special sensors, have the capability to search large crowds and the people within them to learn who is presenting with signs of fever and watery eyes,” says Cameron Chell, CEO and chairman of the 22-year-old company Draganfly, which builds drones that are used in a variety of applications.
In fact, says Cameron Chell, his company is currently in discussions with another country to potentially design, produce and supply them with as many as six unmanned flying drones. All would be outfitted with a variety of special sensors, possibly including infrared sensors and facial recognition technology, that can detect symptoms related to coronavirus.
Although it’s only been a relative few years since drones were first introduced, the people who develop them — Draganfly and a number of other companies — have continued to explore opportunities for their use. “They can be very helpful in a number of situations,” says Chell, who adds that they can be configured with a wide range of sensors and technology, and are capable of carrying all types of payloads.
Because they’re small in size and not piloted by an onboard human, drones are less obtrusive and far more quiet than, say, a helicopter.
Chell adds that the enterprises are drawn to using drones because the ones equipped with sensors allow them to collect all types of data for analytic purposes. In Draganfly’s case, it’s the ability for drones to combine and integrate design, engineering, software, and sensors that capture data that interests those companies with which they’re contracting.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has infected more than 76,000 people around the world (and killed more than 2,200) at the time of this writing, with new cases being reported each day, and Chell says it provides a perfect opportunity to use drone technology to potentially benefit humanity.
Not long ago, he notes that a Draganfly drone played a key role in a search-and-rescue operation involving an auto accident victim with a head injury who’d left the accident scene during a snowstorm. The drone was able to find the victim using a thermal signature.
According to Chell, we’re now just seeing the beginning of what drones can do.