Skip to main content

Pandemic drones that can detect fevers and coughing will soon take to the sky

Drones are being increasingly called into action during the COVID-19 crisis, primarily as surveillance tools and mobile speakers to remind people about the importance of lockdown. But there are other use-cases for drones, too. Last month, Digital Trends wrote about how Draganfly, one of the longest-serving commercial drone companies, was working on technology to use drones in the coronavirus pandemic — by utilizing an onboard thermal sensor and smart computer vision technology to allow them to make potential diagnoses from a distance. This could make it more efficient to take temperature readings than the current method of employing devices like handheld infrared thermometers.

On Thursday, March 26, Draganfly announced that it has been chosen and agreed a deal to deploy its COVID-19-sensing drones in Australia. Working with the Australian Department of Defense and the University of South Australia, the Draganfly deployment will see it using its “pandemic drones” to remotely monitor and detect people with infectious and respiratory conditions to help stop the further spread of the disease in Australia. The project has an initial budget of $1.5 million.

Using their onboard tech, the drones are capable of monitoring fever-associated temperature, heart and respiratory rates from a distance, as well as detecting people sneezing and coughing in crowds or places where groups of people may work or congregate.

“The technology itself has not changed in the last month (note: since we published our article on the tech),” Cameron Chell, CEO of Draganfly, told Digital Trends. “But what has changed is our ability to start to talk about the specifics of where and how it was developed as well as its capabilities.”

Chell noted that the drones will be deployed at various hotspots. “Getting the tech into areas where the most amount of detection is currently required is the priority,” he said.

It’s not clear exactly when Draganfly’s drones will be taking to the sky for this purpose. However, given how pressing this unfolding situation is, the sooner this can be done, the better.

In the meantime, Chell said that the company has received plenty of other inquiries about its pandemic drones. “It seems that every market and industry that has been affected by this pandemic has interest at some level,” he said.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
We could soon be coughing into our phones to see if we have COVID-19
google search can now teach you how to pronounce tricky words speaker phone

Imagine if you could open an app on your smartphone and simply cough to discover right there and then if you have COVID-19.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say they have developed such a method, which could be used as part of broader measures to get the virus under control.

Read more
Sniffer dogs could detect COVID-19 days before symptoms occur
sniffer dogs detecting covid 19 in people is a thing dog training

Scientists have discovered that dogs’ powerful sense of smell can enable the animal to sniff out COVID-19 on infected people even before they develop symptoms.

The global research efforts have so far led to two international airports deploying trained sniffer dogs in trials aimed at tracking down travelers with the virus as they pass through the facility.

Read more
Watch Amazon’s new Ring security drone take on a burglar in first ad
ring always home cam autonomous flying camera news specs price alway connect 2 of 3

Amazon unveiled a bunch of new products on Thursday, September 24, including Ring’s Always Home Cam.

The Always Home Cam is a security drone designed to fly autonomously from room to room to check that your property is secure while you’re out. It does, of course, connect to your smartphone, so if there is an unwelcome visitor, you’ll be able to watch your home being burglarized in real time instead of being surprised about it when you arrive home.

Read more