Can Drones Make a Difference During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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With social distancing in effect to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and groups are seeking ways to respond to needs without making human contact. Drones may be an answer. Ken Stewart, CEO of AiRXOS, GE Aviation, as well as Chris Todd, Executive Director, Airborne International Response Team, and Charles Warner, Director, Drone Responders Public Safety Alliance, joined in this episode of Drones in America with Grant Guillot to discuss the prospect.

Stewart referenced the recent mission of a Blackhawk to bring supplies and virus testing kits to a cruise ship in California. “A crew of at least 3 could potentially get exposed,” he said. With drones, he added “you could control exposure to the contaminant.” On top of this, there could be significant cost savings in deploying drones instead. Drones fit into public health and relief efforts because they are effective for “limiting human to human interactions, which is really important,” explained Todd.

Despite these benefits of using drones in response to issues like COVID-19, there are also many challenges. Warner pointed out that one challenge is finding ways for companies and organizations to “limit their exposure while maintaining their service.” As drones are new technologies, and emergencies are not the time for testing, exploratory missions and reviews are what is current in this field.

Experts in the drone industry are launching task forces and exploring “the realistic possibilities without interfering with operations happening today,” Warner said. For example, delivery of medications or the use of drones to see what’s happening in areas that dispatch has been called to are viable applications being considered.

Overall, the goal of drone organizations at this time is not to explore and deploy solutions to advance the industry, but to find ways to meet very real and pressing needs. Tune in to learn more.

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