Aviation Airspace May Fill with Drones Used to Minimize Virus Spreading

Aviation Airspace

Drones that can search for symptoms of contagions may enter aviation airspace

I just love technology. I recently read an article that said drones could soon be used to screen large area crowds for symptoms of dangerous contagions, such as the coronavirus. How’s that good use of our national airspace? 

A drone services company called Draganfly is evaluating a sensor package and artificial intelligence software that would be capable of monitoring crowds for population health sampling. The sensors would be effective at ranges up to 100 feet and could be used indoors or outdoors at large venues, including stadiums, ports of entry, and refugee camps. 

The sensor package would include technology including infrared, doppler radar, and high-resolution cameras to feed imagery to software that would be able to discern stress recognition, fevers, watery eyes, and muscle movement that may indicate high blood pressure. An initial analysis would be available within 15-20 seconds of the overflight.

They can even add facial recognition, although the purpose of the software is not to isolate specific people, but rather to look for likely infection within a larger group. Using drones in this manner can provide the critical data that medical personnel need to determine when, where, and how to deploy resources in an emergency such as the coronavirus.

A single drone overflying a crowd can collect huge amounts of data over a very short period of time and it could be as simple as fitting a public health sensor package as an add-on to existing public safety drones.

Now I know what you’re thinking, we don’t have large crowds anymore because of Covid-19, but there are many more applications that sound intriguing. 

If this technology had been up and running at the start of this coronavirus invasion, maybe we would have moved a bit faster to begin social distancing and whatever else we needed to do to keep this from rapidly spreading. There is little doubt that there will be many more opportunities to use the airspace above crowds to screen for signs of contagions and other health related data. This is not our first public health scare, and I’m sure it will not be our last. Technology that keeps us safer and healthier can’t get here fast enough. Keep it coming.

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