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Pandemic drone to monitor COVID-19 symptoms

Using advance technology to monitor COVID-19 hotspots and implement on social distancing will now become easy as a ‘pandemic drone’ is being launched to monitor and detect people with infectious respiratory symptoms in public.

A United States (US) company that deals in unmanned vehicles, Dranganfly announced the first ever series of U.S. ‘pandemic drone’ test flights in Westport, Connecticut, considered a COVID-19 ‘hotspot’, to identify social distancing and detect symptoms presented by the virus, in an effort to keep the community safe.

Draganfly’s new pandemic drone technology is being tested by the Westport Police Department as a new “Flatten the Curve Pilot Program” and is made possible by the collaboration and integration of technologies developed by Draganfly, Vital Intelligence Inc. and the University of South Australia.

The drone is said to monitor people’s temperatures from 190 feet away and has the ability to detect sneezing, coughing and heart and breathing rates using sensors and computer vision.

Westport is deploying the technology and data tools to enhance town services, advance public safety, promote the efficient use of taxpayer dollars, engage residents, and encourage growth in the local economy.

It will not be used in individual private yards and does not use facial recognition, individualized data or identify people, Draganfly insists.

The company initially expected the equipment to be ready in six months time but Westport police are already testing it out.

Researchers involved say the drone demonstrated that heart rate and breathing rate can be measured with high accuracy within 16 to 32 feet of people, using drones and at distances of up to 190 feet with fixed cameras.

And it uses special algorithms to spot someone sneezing and coughing.

The UniSA team led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl believes the UAV could be a viable screening tool for the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘It might not detect all cases, but it could be a reliable tool to detect the presence of the disease in a place or in a group of people.’

Officials in Westport believe the new technology could be the answer to combating the spread of coronavirus and tracking those with symptoms.

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