Drones on COVID’s Frontlines

Social distancing monitoring
Draganfly's Drone technology shows individuals in the area of social distancing.

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In today’s world of medical and technical advancements, drones are used for more than just photography. Drones are used in California for a multitude of natural disasters, emergency situations, and most recently, State fires.

However, drones are now being used to flatten the curve and combat the spread of the months-long COVID-19 pandemic. According to Draganfly CEO Cameron Chell, Draganfly is the oldest drone manufacturer in the world, specializing in technology to aid the United States and other countries in data collection and other issues.

Chell said at the beginning of the pandemic, he knew he wanted to use drones to flatten the curve by using the highly specialized sensors and artificial intelligence for data collection. The data collection would ultimately help individuals make fact-based decisions regarding infection rate or potential infection rate.

He exampled individuals checking the weather before deciding how to dress and travel for trips and vacations.

“If I’m going to make the decision to take my family to Disneyland, I want to know what the health reports are,” he said as an example of how to use the drones’ collected health data to make decisions.

The drones can monitor and determine if people in the area are wearing masks and social distancing; can monitor an entire crowd, transmit the collected data to a screen, and show the people within the crowd if they’re social distancing; and can determine the risk profile of the crowd.

“This population-based data will allow us to operate within this new reality,” Chell said.

Individuals in the crowd will appear on a screen with either a red or green circle around their person. This indicates if they are practicing social distancing — red circles indicate failure to social distance, green circles indicate safe social distancing practices.

The drones’ artificial intelligence functions allow it to determine if people within the crowd belong to the same family unit — allowing them to be closer than six feet without a red circle appearing. The drone can also factor risk levels if an individual is wearing a face covering.

Additionally, Chell explained the drones can measure blood oxygen levels, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. The thermal sensors allow the drone to measure the core temperature from the carotid artery — a more regulated and reliable temperature measure than measuring surface temperature, which can be influenced from outside elements.

Chell said schools, government offices and buildings, stadiums, and telehealth fields are using the technology provided by Draganfly — drones or stationary cameras and recording devices.

He also explained the importance of privacy concerns, saying they take the public’s privacy rights very seriously. He said individuals must give their consent to be identified, meaning the information captured by the technology is anonymous.

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