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Long-endurance drones prove their value against COVID-19

May 6, 2020  - By
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With more than 3 million people infected around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is pushing health authorities to research and develop new ways to react to critical situations, according to drone company Quaternium.

Public and private organizations are racing to develop experimental treatments and vaccines to fight COVID-19. At the same time, many local companies are trying to think outside the box to find ways to minimize the effects of the crisis. “Our current situation has opened up opportunities for innovative solutions, and we are best seeing them within the drone industry,” said Alicia Fuentes, CEO at Quaternium.

Photo: Quaternium

Photo: Quaternium

Drones have been deployed in the effort to contain the spread of the pandemic. “We’ve seen drones distributing public information, like voice messages, to those not following social distancing measures as well as delivering medical samples and spraying disinfectants to urban areas,” Fuentes said.

Unmanned solutions are easy to operate and can be quickly mobilized. “In addition to reducing the risk of health of sanitary workers, drones also get to unreachable places; they have become a versatile tool for managing this health catastrophe,” Fuentes said.

In Europe, several startups like Quaternium, Drone Tools and Manna Aero, and in the U.S. and Canada, companies such as Zipline and Draganfly are all exploring how they can help in their regions and neighboring countries to decrease the aftermaths of the pandemic and save more lives.

Quaternium demonstrates drone spraying

Quaternium has successfully been testing its hybrid drone, HYBRiX, to spray disinfectant products in Spain, showing how drone technology may serve in critical situations and how the company can support public authorities to help end the spread of the virus.

The company has also demonstrated aerial logistics solutions by delivering essential items to people in critical situations. Long-endurance drones can deliver supplies specifically for COVID-19 efforts, such as masks and gloves to first responders. HYBRiX can also deliver medicine to patients who can’t safely get to a pharmacy.

In the U.S., police departments are using drones from Impossible Aerospace to limit personal contact and share COVID-19 information, to reach out to homeless people (who are particularly at risk for coronavirus) and to monitor and enforce social distancing.

These are some of the areas where drones are being used to fight COVID-19.

Delivery drones

Due to COVID-19 being so contagious, it’s safer if human-to-human contact is minimized. UAVs are proving to be a valuable tool when delivering medical samples and essential items to health personnel. Several drone companies have made tests showing the crucial role that unmanned logistics can play against the spread of COVID-19.

Inform and prevent

“In the last weeks, we have seen speakers being mounted on drones to help inform people outdoors and prevent public gatherings. Drones can also be found flying with banners advising people on how to be more precautious when going outside,” Fuentes said. The mobility and flexible use of these UAVs make the mission of security agencies simpler, while avoiding close contact with the population, she said.

Aerial spraying and disinfection

First in China and now in Europe and the U.S., agriculture drones — originally designed to spray liquids on crops — are being adapted to spray disinfecting chemicals in public spaces and impacted areas. Experts have discovered that coronavirus is mainly transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. This new virus has shown to be very contagious and resistant, staying on some surfaces up to 30 days, which makes disinfectant spray vital to helping reduce transmission mechanisms.

The battle with COVID-19 has just begun. Cases are continuing to rise in and outside of Europe. “Now more than ever, public authorities and private companies need to join forces in order to grow stronger and overcome this pandemic together,” Fuentes said.

Photo: Quaternium

Photo: Quaternium

Photo: Quaternium

Photo: Quaternium

 

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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