Can drones help in the fight against COVID-19?

Can drones help in the fight against COVID19 concept of drone technology, graphic of quadrocopter control interface

Imagine that the next time the world faces another pandemic like COVID-19, drones are ready to take to the skies to provide help. Some are able to quickly release necessary supplies, notify medical professionals to attend to those at risk, and safely disinfect hard-hit areas, while others employ cutting-edge technology such as thermal sensors, which are able to identify symptoms such as elevated body temperatures.

In the meantime, drones enable shops, restaurants, businesses, and even schools, to continue delivering essential goods and services from a distance, potentially saving immeasurable lives.

This does sound like a plot for a Sci-Fi movie but how soon is it becoming reality?

If the current pandemic has any silver linings, it is that we are able to work together even from a distance to help protect communities against COVID-19. While millions of us are doing what we can by staying at home and taking the right precautions when we venture out, some innovators are testing new approaches that may benefit us in the future.

Since 2014, SkySkopes has been a trusted Drone Services Provider (DSP) for clients in industries like energy, utilities, transportation, oil and gas, where workers are exposed to hazardous conditions and named one of the top five DSP companies in the world by Frost & Sullivan. Headquartered in the Grand Forks, the North Dakota-based company is now testing innovative drone applications in collaboration with North Dakota State University, Grand Forks County, and the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems.

As early detection has been proven effective in the prevention of the rapid spread of infections, SkySkopes is conducting research on drone technology that could potentially detect unusually high temperatures. Using advanced, commercially available Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) and thermal sensors on the ground, SkySkopes can check participants for body heat that could indicate symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus.

They are also testing using drones for the touch-free delivery of necessities and medical supplies, and also the sanitation of playgrounds, by cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, which are not harmful to humans.

SkySkopes has always known that drones have the capability to solve some of humanity’s most demanding problems, if they can be scaled efficiently. Early in their program, SkySkopes used spreadsheets and various other tools to manage their drone program. However, as the company scaled up and systems grew more complicated, they needed a single platform to manage their entire aviation operations.

That’s why they turned to Skyward, a Verizon company. Skyward helps companies in all industries see clearly, act intelligently, and fly with confidence through software and consulting services designed for power safety, efficiency, and access to airspace.

The platform-agnostic fashion of Skyward is extremely beneficial,” says SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy. “Being able to just reach into your pocket, to see what you need to see and schedule what you need to schedule with your teams is an indispensable feature. There just isn’t a way to scale without something like Skyward.”

For more than four years, SkySkopes has relied on Skyward to manage its drone program from a single platform accessible from any device at any time. As a leading authority on safe, efficient drone operations, Skyward’s software and expert guidance helps SkySkopes oversee everything from teams and equipment to projects and flights. Skyward also helps the company manage operational data and makes it easy for pilots to comply with aviation regulations.