It may feel as if the world has gone mad in its response to COVID-19, but there can be no doubt that it is now spreading in pandemic proportions and detecting and containing it is our best line of defence. Some of the greatest tech minds are currently experimenting with drones to see if they can be used to detect the virus and help prevent its’ spread:
Thermal imaging and adapting its uses:
Drones are already being used to help locate accident victims with the use of thermal signature, and so, have proven their worth as being capable of saving lives. Some drone manufacturers are looking to harness this potential by adapting their drones to help try and stop the spread of the virus. Having infected thousands of citizens all over the world, there has never been a more significant need for the kind of technology that can detect viruses while minimising human contact.
How it will work:
Being able to monitor people from a distance is vital in such a pandemic, and at present, places like airports, factories and ports are able only to use handheld infrared thermometers to help detect temperatures. While these have proved effective in detecting individuals who may be showing symptoms of a flu-like virus, they are not always reliable and still require the person holding the device to remain within a dangerous distance to those being screened.
What drone designers and manufacturers are looking into, is developing a drone that can use a similar method to screen people’s temperatures, but from a far greater distance. It’s hoped that with the use of airborne infrared sensors, a person’s facial temperature can be measured up to 100 yards away or even further.
Drone makers are also developing methods of monitoring other health issues in people, such as watery eyes and blood pressure, with a sensor being worked on that can measure heart rate. With the ability to monitor each of these symptoms (of something, even if it isn’t COVID-19), a much clearer picture can be ascertained of whether the individual needs to be quarantined or should seek immediate medical care.
Are there any concerns related to the development of this technology?
Some have expressed concern that data gathered from individuals in this manner, be used appropriately instead of singling people out and attempting to profile them. Experts state that if this kind of health monitoring is carried out as a means of identification, the public will not take kindly to this. When used as a means of monitoring, protecting people or for better understanding health trends and the like, it’s thought that most would be far more accepting of this type of tech.
Those who remain suspicious of new forms of technology, will doubtless remain so, but when it comes to something as serious as a pandemic, we should embrace technology and recognize when it can be used for the greater good.