DRONES DURING A PANDEMIC
As it turns out, drones are not just for lonely tech nerds, ambitious cinematographers, and windmill inspectors any more. As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, civilians and governments around the world are finding many uses for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Surveillance and Enforcement
Many have expressed concern that a sustainable solution to the pandemic will require increasing oversight of the populace by governmental agencies. There is a fear that high-tech “big brother” tactics will run amok and civil liberties will be violated en masse. While that remains to be seen, many governments both federal and local are already using drones in their surveillance and enforcement efforts. These include the United States, United Kingdom, Jordan, Germany, and Malaysia, among others. Notably, in China, operators are already using thermal imaging drones to scan crowds and detect individuals who are running a fever.
Elizabeth, New Jersey took to Facebook to announce its use of UAVs to combat the spread of coronavirus. “You have been advised,” the post concludes.
Various other states and municipalities are using drones to sanitize public spaces. Spain, perhaps the first European nation to use the tactic, is deploying agricultural UAVs to spray disinfectant around large outdoor areas as well as inside large vehicles. In Daegu, South Korea private drone operators can spray down an area the size of a Walmart store in one flight.
Medical Transport and Health Care
For years, humanitarian agencies have used drones to deliver important medical items. Zipline, a California-based drone company, has made more than 60,000 such deliveries in Rwanda and Ghana in the past few years. Proponents of drone use in health care systems point out that the vehicles can be use in a variety of ways to improve efficiency and range. The are effective in search and rescue operations. They can transport medications, blood, vaccines, and critical supplies. And soon, they will deliver coronavirus tests and other items to infected individuals while maintaining social distancing protocols.
Food and Supplies Delivery
Rural areas and food deserts can benefit from drone deliveries, which bypass slow roads and rough terrain. Google’s Project Wing is already doing this in select locations, such as Christianburg, Virginia where requests for the service have surged. Wing delivers dry goods, canned goods and other essentials from the local Walgreens. The company operates in Helsinki, Finland and Canberra, Australia.
ELEVATION has already reported on two quarantined lovers from Brooklyn who met via drone. But have you heard about the man in Cyprus who remotely walks his dog?
Or the San Francisco man who requested a toilet paper delivery from his buddy?