As the situation in the Chinese province of Wuhan reaches critical levels, government officials are seeking unorthodox measures to control the spread of the lethal virus. Drones take to the skies over the quarantined area. Among different propositions, the solution of a Canadian-based company Draganfly Inc. (DFLYF, DFLY.CN, 3U8.F) might be key to the success of the whole operation.
Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, has compared current drone capabilities to those of manned aircraft before World War II. The technology, though impressive, is still in its infancy and major innovations are underway. But the drones’ major test arrives today, as the rapid spreading of the coronavirus in China calls for innovative solutions, that often only unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can deliver.
Pilotless aircraft over Wuhan
Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said last week that “since the onset of the outbreak, China has taken unprecedentedly strict prevention and control measures, many of which far exceed WHO recommendations and requirements.” Using drones in the effort against coronavirus seems to be acting above expectations, as UAVs have had limited application in similar situations before.
From late January on, designated units are performing regular 360° scans with high-zoom cameras to supervise the situation on the ground, which greatly extends the reach of the patrols and delivers quality data. Some of the drones have been fitted with megaphones that are used to transmit voice commands to people not obeying the strict quarantine rules.
The quarantine itself has cut off and isolated many roads, which has inevitably led to congestion, creating additional concerns. In order to effectively measure and direct the traffic, police use drones to gather information from a high vantage point, that is subsequently used to clear the most frequented roads.
But keen observation is not the only way drones make a name for themselves. Some of the UAVs designed for agriculture had their fertilizer tanks retrofitted with disinfectant, which was later successfully administered in China’s Shandong province on January 28. A community of over 300,000 square meters was disinfected in less than 4 hours.
Canada joins the effort
China isn’t the only one interested in curtailing the situation as soon as possible. The virus has breached the country’s borders and now virtually every province has interest in stopping the epidemic before it turns into a pandemic. The situation calls for innovative solutions that could leverage the previously unimaginable solutions that only unmanned aircraft can deliver.
A Canadian pioneer in drone technology with over 20 years experience, Draganfly Inc. (DFLYF, DFLY.CN, 3U8.F), specializes in creating custom hardware and software solutions for UAVs. With major accomplishments in public safety, agriculture, and surveillance, Draganfly is widely regarded as one of the first companies to commercialize the drone.
Constructed with enterprise and governmental clients in mind, Draganfly drones are rugged enough for extended missions. Additionally they can be fitted with specialized equipment including LiDAR, radar, sonar, infrared cameras, and virtually any type of imaging hardware.
With extensive experience in drone technology and the capacity to deliver custom-tailored drones fit for special tasks, Draganfly is ready to offer their answer to how UAVs can help in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
With the use of infrared sensors, thermal imaging, doppler radar, AI and facial recognition, Draganfly drones could be used to scan crowds for people with high temperature levels, as fever and watery eyes are the first telltale signs of infection. Current technology used by the company allows taking precise readings at distances up to 100 feet, providing reliable results on a large scale while keeping a safe distance from people.
Preventing a panic
So far, there is no measurable data to assess the effectiveness of drones in use, but their regular appearance in the skies sparks numerous concerns about privacy. After all, an unmanned machine hovering in the sky, equipped with cutting-edge cameras, is nowhere short of a perfect spying tool. As much as privacy is not a primary concern for the government of China, it is a hot issue in North America.
In the United States, every three out of four drones in the sky come from China. As UAVs become more commonplace, governments need full insight into their inner workings to evaluate potential risks to security. With limited possibilities of accessing source code of Chinese drones, there is little way of ensuring that data gathered by these drones is not going to be used by unauthorized parties.
David Bernhardt, head of the U.S. Department of Interior, recently raised concerns about the widespread use of Chinese-made drones in the state. While the government is debating whether to ban the use of Chinese UAVs, the need for a manufacturer that can deliver fully auditable software and hardware becomes crucial. This is why Draganfly might be standing on the threshold of their most important moment to date.
Ready for takeoff
The U.S. military and several other agencies have already introduced a ban on Chinese drones, and if the U.S. government decides to purge the rest of them from its institutions, a remarkable window of opportunity might arise. The $100 billion market gap would create an opportunity ready for taking, and Draganfly is one of the original North American businesses that could meet the new restrictive guidelines.
Draganfly Inc. (DFLYF, DFLY.CN, 3U8.F) has pioneered some of the most significant achievements in the UAV world, like constructing the first 8-rotor copter and designing the first delivery drone – the company is also highly successful on the commercial side. In 2019 Draganfly had a net revenue of $1.9 million and reached a market cap of over $34 million. However, these numbers could skyrocket if the U.S. government enacts the drone ban.
About 70% of company revenues come from contracts with the military and public safety institutions, and the U.S. defense budget for drones in 2020 is expected to surpass $3.7 billion. In light of this information, Draganfly could possibly reach revenues up to $9 million in 2020.
The new age of aviation
The need for drones is rising exponentially in the non-consumer sector, where security concerns and incidents like the coronavirus outbreak underline the importance of a robust drone strategy.
Due to their broad range of applications, and the capacity to gather immense amounts of data, drones will play center stage in tomorrow’s aviation. To rely on them, governments will have to resort to auditable options that can be thoroughly evaluated if the national security is to rely on them. In situations like these, it will be companies like Draganfly Inc. which will not only deliver secure and stable systems, but also provide innovative solutions that will be an answer to key obstacles of the contemporary world.