As quarantines, shutdowns, and social distancing regulations are implemented around the globe to deal with the current pandemic, drone companies are stepping up to do what they can. Drones are an ideal tool to keep business going despite social distancing measures – but service providers say that they could do much more. Read on for a deep dive on how the drone industry is participating in response to current global challenges; and what needs to happen next.
Ken Hanes, Owner of AGL Drone Services, was driving from Colorado Springs to Denver to perform UAS inspections when he turned on the radio and learned that the Mayor of Denver issued an order closing down bars and restaurants to fight the spread of COVID19. He then learned that Colorado Springs had declared a state of emergency and that the governor had ordered statewide closures to limit group gatherings. “Before COVID19, I’d never heard of social distancing, but it’s now part of my daily vocabulary and has found a place in my drone business,” Hanes says. “I realized on that drive to Denver to shoot those drone jobs that I practice social distancing every day in my business but didn’t realize it. My job allows me the unique opportunity to provide information to my clients with absolutely no face-to-face interaction. I have the ability to travel to a location and fly the drone to collect the information I need without ever interfacing with anyone, and the electronic deliverables I provide allows unlimited distribution to interested parties anywhere in the world.”
Hanes reflects on what many in the commercial drone industry have realized – drones are ideal for facilitating social distancing and have significant potential to assist with the public safety and economic impacts of COVID19. As explained by Luke Fox, Founder and CEO of WhiteFox Defense Technologies, “Drones are critical in the fight against COVID-19. This technology can work as a force multiplier to ensure people get medical supplies, food, and other life-saving essentials all while minimizing potentially infectious human contact. As drones continue to take to the sky, WhiteFox is working to create a safe, trusted, and secure airspace.”
Government decision-makers, industry stakeholders, and drone organizations are collaborating to determine the extent to which drones can assist with relief efforts during the pandemic. “The Commercial Drone Alliance’s focus right now is ensuring that our member companies are able to assist the COVID-19 response in the same way that other companies are stepping up to do so,” explains Lisa Ellman, Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance. “We are in conversations with relevant stakeholders to determine how commercial drones can safely and effectively be used to help those affected by the virus.” Ellman adds, “There are many use cases for drones that can aid the nation from delivering test kits to areas in need to delivering medical goods to quarantined individuals, and much more. UAS provide essential services that can mitigate the need for extensive human interaction and can expedite logistics, which could help prevent the spread of the disease and enhance efficiencies as personnel are forced to stay home.”