• 3 ways China is using drones to fight coronavirus

    Over the past few months, the Chinese government has piloted ways to incorporate drones into their response to Coronavirus.
    Image: XAG

    In just a few months, Coronavirus has changed how we greet each other, how we work and how our children are educated. It’s also pushing public health authorities to develop new ways to deliver healthcare.

    Over the past few months, the Chinese government has been piloting ways to incorporate drones into their response to Coronavirus. These initial experiments may serve as a model for other countries looking to respond to the current health crisis. Longer term, they can provide lessons for how public and private health systems can incorporate drone technology into their planning to mitigate future pandemics.

    Here are three areas where drones have been a key tool in responding to COVID-19:

    Aerial spray and disinfection

    Drones originally designed to spray pesticides for agricultural applications were adapted in China to spray disinfecting chemicals in some public spaces and on epidemic prevention vehicles traveling between impacted areas. (Coronavirus is mainly transmitted via respiratory droplets and can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Disinfectant spray helps reduce these transmission mechanisms.)

    “Compared with hand spray, drone spray has many advantages in terms of efficiency, consistency,” noted Justin Gong, co-founder of agricultural drone company XAG. Depending on the application, drone spray can be fifty times more efficient than people spraying.

    To ensure the safety of aerial disinfection operations, XAG Technology, DJI Agriculture, China Agricultural Machinery Distribution Association, China Agricultural University Research Centre for Medical Equipment and Application Technology and other relevant agencies jointly published a series of operational guidance and technical specifications to communicate with local authorities and make sure that all efforts were conducted in a safe and scientific manner.

    Drones were an efficient way to apply disinfectant to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Image: XAG

    Transport of samples

    Delivering medical samples by drone can significantly reduce unnecessary human contact throughout the transport cycle. It can also speed feedback for critical tests needed by patients and medical workers.

    Testing drone delivery for medical samples began last month, at a time when the virus had already killed 600 people in the country and infected 28,000. Early last February, a drone loaded with medical testing supplies took off from the People’s Hospital of Xinchang County, Zhejiang Province and flew to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention located 3 km away. As a result, a journey that would have taken 20 minutes by ground transport took only 6, cutting delivery time by more than half.

    This effort required close coordination with a variety of groups and agencies, including the Hangzhou Municipal Government, its health department (and subset healthcare facilities), drone company Antwork, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to approve routes and ensure proper safety measures were taken. At the peak of the operation, it ran 20 more flights every day.

    “At the moment of life and death, the air transport network can significantly confine the flow of people, avoid unnecessary physical contact and prevent secondary transmission,” said Lv Yinxiang, Secretary of the Party Committee of the County People’s Hospital. “Medical samples delivered through air can shrink the delivery time…while saving precious field resources.”

    Consumer drone delivery

    Drone delivery of consumer items can ensure that people have access to food and other goods – and make it easier for citizens to keep to recommendations limiting human contact.

    Consumer delivery was challenging in parts of China even before the virus thanks to difficult landscapes – like Anxin’s series of semi-isolated islands. In that village, routine grocery deliveries typically required three modes of transport. Goods were shipped to a main pier, ferried to each island, and then distributed by foot. When counter-virus measures suspended the ferry service, driving along the peninsula’s rugged and narrow road could take more than 2 hours in a single trip to cover 100 km.

    Drones in some parts of China sped the delivery of much-needed consumer goods as residents were asked to limit travel.
    Image: JD

    Drone delivery quickly became a feasible alternative. With the support from the local government, e-commerce company JD deployed its drone team. That team quickly conducted ground surveys, designed flight corridors, requested airspace access permission and conducted final flight tests. In just a few days, several drone delivery corridors were put in place replacing hours-long drives with a 2 km flight that could be completed in just 10 minutes.

    Lessons learned

    The coronavirus outbreak in China has led to significant experimentation with many emerging technologies, including drones. While these projects and demonstrations are still in their earliest phases, we can begin to draw some lessons that can be useful to health authorities around the world.

    Data needs to be gathered and shared about the efficacy of these applications so health authorities can assess the impact on disease transmission, any cost savings, and service improvements for the overall health system. Currently this data is often considered to be proprietary by companies and sensitive by authorities, but a commitment by authorities to release this information or a trusted neutral party with access to the data could ensure other health systems are able to learn from these experiences.

    Drones need to be integrated into planned health responses. As the results from Coronavirus response efforts in China to blood delivery in Rwanda and Ghana to Dengue prevention in Fiji become clearer, we should be able to preplant how drones will be used during disease outbreaks and make appropriate investments rather than relying on ad hoc experimentation.

    “These lessons can reshape how we protect and care for people during health emergencies.”

    —Junwei Yang, Timothy Reuter, World Economic Forum

    Coordination between the public and private sector is essential. Drones are subject to strict regulation outside of consumer use and civil aviation authorities need to respond quickly to requests for health applications while preserving the safety of the airspace and those on the ground. Right now, flight requests are being approved on an exceptional basis, but in the future there should be clear regulations put in place that define how to conduct these applications.

    The civil aviation authority is working with industry, health officials and security services to put these policies into place. The CAAC unmanned aerial system office leadership stated, “Drones are playing key roles in managing the COVID-19 outbreak… It proves that lessons learnt from real world practices are critical for developing a sound regulatory framework whereby the potential of drone technology can be realized.”

    As the world continues to tackle this crisis, these lessons can reshape how we protect and care for people during health emergencies.

    Source: Aeronerve

  • 10 UAV Jobs of the Future


    In the next three to five years (2018 to 2020), analysts expect the domestic commercial use of drones to boom across dozens of industries, from law enforcement to Hollywood moviemaking.

    The widespread commercial use of drones is predicted to inject $13.6 billion in the U.S. economy over the next three years and create 70,000 jobs in both drone manufacturing and flight operations [source: AUVSI]. Future drone pilots are already enrolling by the hundreds in UAV training programs at colleges like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and the University of North Dakota [source: Kolpak].

    You might be surprised by who’s making use of drone technology Here are 10 UAV jobs that are set to explode over the next decade.

    10) Wildlife Conservationist

    A ground crew takes data and fits a tracking collar to a wild elephant after it was darted by Kenya Wildlife Service. Drones protect elephants from armed poachers in remote parts of Kenya.

    The greatest advantage of drones is the ability to go places that are too remote or dangerous for a human being. The military exploits this advantage to run missions deep in enemy territory. Wildlife conservationists use UAVs to monitor and protect fragile species in danger zones across the planet.

    Outside the U.S., groups like the World Wildlife Fund are protecting elephants and rhinos from armed poachers in remote parts of Kenya and Nepal with a squadron of surveillance drones paid for by Google.

    9) Energy Inspector





    8) Search and Rescue

    BP is experimenting with drones equipped with thermal cameras that can detect leaks and weak spots along the trans-Alaska pipeline, for a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.


    Drones are also proving indispensable for inspecting the massive turbine blades of wind farms, which can be hundreds of feet above the ground. Huge solar energy operations with acres and acres of panels are also partnering with drone outfitters to detect broken panels and defective turbines using automated swarms of aerial cameras. Drones can even be used to scare off birds and other wild animals that could get injured or damage remote equipment. 

    8) Search and Rescue

    Workers operate a drone through the debris caused by the crash of EgyptAir 990 in search of a second flight recorder in 1999.

    When a Category 5 hurricane drills into a densely populated coastline, or a mudslide buries a remote village, one of the hardest tasks of search-and-rescue crews is simply getting to the site of the disaster. Drones offer an effective combination of maneuverability and high-tech imaging to locate survivors in the most extreme disaster conditions.

    A lightweight search-and-rescue drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera can fly low over a disaster site scanning the wreckage for signs of life. Rescue workers can save valuable time by focusing on known survivors instead of randomly digging through debris in the remote chance of finding life.

    7) Drone Journalist

    A journalist operates a drone outside the Pretoria High Court on in Pretoria, South Africa during the trial of Oscar Pistorius.


    The newsroom of the future will absolutely include a fleet of UAVs armed with high-definition cameras to capture live breaking news events and give a bird’s-eye perspective on important stories.After a 2015 cyclone ravaged the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, NBC News captured startling footage of the fresh wreckage with a drone. And when the BBC assembled a collection of feature stories honoring the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, it produced a remarkable aerial video shot by a soaring drone.

    6) Drone Farmer

    A UAV flies over a vineyard in Bordeaux, France; it is equipped with an infrared camera to determine the optimal maturity of the grapes, allowing them to be harvested at different times.

    Agriculture, surprisingly, is expected to provide some of the most fertile ground for the widespread use of UAVs [source: AeroVironment]. We’re not talking about the folksy family farm down the road. The types of farms and ranches that would most benefit from drones are massive operations covering hundreds or even thousands of acres.

    Drones will become a critical component of what’s called precision agriculture. In the past, farmers would apply the same amount of fertilizer across an entire field, even if nutrient levels fluctuated greatly from one acre of soil to the next. The same was true for pesticides: Instead of hand-inspecting plants row by row, farmers would douse the entire crop with chemicals to prevent an outbreak.

    In the near future, a drone equipped with infrared imaging cameras could detect chlorophyll levels in leaves, creating a detailed fertility map for an entire field. The next drone, armed with GPS coordinates and fertilizer, could spray the plants that need it most, cutting down on costs and potentially harmful chemical runoff.

    And when harvest time approaches, farmers could inspect the ripeness of tomatoes and pumpkins in far-flung fields without hiring teams of workers to walk the rows. You could even envision a vacuum-equipped drone that could suck up samples of insects to determine the precision application of pesticides.

    5) Police Drone Operator

    Members of a French police intervention unit take positions while a drone flies outside a building where a man is barricaded with his children and threatening their safety.

    A pair of dangerous convicts have escaped from the local prison and are believed to be hiding out in an overgrown corn field. The men might be armed, but the cops can’t be sure. They could send in a police helicopter, but its noisy approach would tip off the fugitives to lay low. Plus, most local police forces can’t afford a helicopter.

    Stowed in the trunk of the squad car and assembled in minutes, a police drone can quietly buzz over the field, capturing real-time infrared and thermal images to locate the fugitives. The cameras could also detect if the men are armed or injured, critical information for planning their capture while protecting officers’ lives.

    Drone-assisted police work is already a reality in cities and towns across America, but has run into strong resistance from privacy advocates who fear the emergence of a Big Brother-like police state. For the most part, police drones have been limited to search-and-rescue operations, or taking aerial photos of an accident or crime scene.

    4) Drone-assisted Property Management

    Dmitry Lipinsy, who owns Icedam Liquidators, uses a drone to see above a roof in Boston while Jesus Foentes uses steam to clear the ice off it.

    Browse local real estate listings online and you usually see slideshows of static photos taken from the corners of empty rooms. Now imagine a real estate listing featuring a high-definition video that takes you soaring over the rooftop down to the backyard, then in through the open back door and up the stairs to the master bedroom. Sure beats a lawn sign.

    Drones will be a huge boon to real estate and property management professionals, as soon as the FAA gives them permission to fly. The FAA is issuing permits on a case-by-case basis to businesses that employ drones to film real estate marketing videos, but the National Association of Realtors encourages its members to hold off until the UAV regulations are loosened.

    It doesn’t stop with listings. Home inspectors could use drones to survey hard-to-reach exteriors. Condominium boards in congested cities could check the condition of roofs and high-rise apartment exteriors without investing in specialized equipment and personnel. In the city of Somerville outside of Boston, the mayor recently employed drones to gauge snow levels on the roofs of public buildings like schools and hospitals to avoid a potential collapse.

    Drones could even be used for security, helping to spot trespassers or burglars in a gated community, with the information relayed to police – assuming this kind of surveillance is allowed.

    3) Aerial ISP

    An employee of MAVinci assembles a camera-quipped Sirius UAV in Germany. Hundreds of projects in Europe are underway to develop civilian UAVs.

    Internet.org has a lofty goal, providing affordable high-speed Internet access to every single person on the planet. The proposed solution is even loftier – literally. The Facebook-led initiative is building a fleet of solar-powered drones that will beam down the Internet to rural and remote communities from 65,000 feet (20 kilometers) [source: Zuckerberg].

    Two-thirds of the world is currently without high-speed Internet access [source: Zuckerberg]. For Internet.org, this represents a tremendous untapped resource of world-changing ideas waiting to be shared. The idea is to provide a source of wireless Internet connectivity that’s more cost-effective than building thousands of cell phone-style radio towers, but more powerful than a distant satellite.

    In late 2014, Airbus unveiled Zephyr, a super-lightweight drone covered in paper-thin solar cells that continuously recharges its battery-powered electric engines for potentially endless flight. Satellites typically circumvent our planet at 250 miles (402 kilometers) from Earth’s surface, but Zephyr can be stationed at a fixed point at 65,000 feet (19,812 meters) for long periods. The lower altitude means a stronger signal can be beamed to a wide swath of users [source: Grobart].

    Facebook’s Internet.org snatched up some of Zephyr’s creators to work on its own solar-powered drones, and Google recently bought Titan Aerospace – another manufacturer of high-altitude drones – to pursue its own initiative for global Internet connectivity [sources: ZuckerbergBBC].

    2) Drone Cinematographer

    A drone camera took this aerial shot of a castle in Ireland

    The first-ever Drone Film Festival was held in New York City in 2014 to celebrate the art of drone cinematography. Winning submissions included a hypnotic aerial tour of the Santa Monica Pier; a colorful music video by OK Go! featuring a Busby Berkeley-style bird’s-eye dance routine and a short film imagining what it would look like if you strapped a GoPro camera to Superman.

    Drones are fast becoming the darling of low-budget filmmakers looking to capture the kind of shots formerly reserved for Hollywood blockbusters. No need to rent budget-busting helicopters, cranes or booms for those magnificent aerial tracking shots. A $1,000 drone and the right HD camera will do quite nicely [source: Watercutter]

    1) Drone Package Delivery Services

    A quadcopter drone arrives with a small delivery at DHL headquarters in Berlin. The company was testing the delivery of medicine from a pharmacy in Bonn.

    Amazon, the online retailing Goliath, shipped an estimated 608 million packages in 2013 [source: Bensinger and Stevens]. Most arrive by U.S. mail or a private package delivery service from Amazon’s global network of fulfillment centers, shipping everything from books to diapers to 4K ultra-HD TVs. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, your packages will arrive in two days or less, at no extra cost.

    But two days isn’t good enough for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who envisions a new way of getting Amazon products into the hands of online shoppers – via drones, of course!

    Amazon Prime Air, if ever approved by the FAA, would use autonomous drones to deliver packages weighing less than 5 pounds (2 kilograms) to your doorstep in a zippy 30 minutes or less. Eighty-six percent of goods sold on Amazon weigh less than 5 pounds, so that could be a lot of drones in space [source: Misener].

    Source: Aeronerve

  • DJI Membuat Aduan Terhadap BBC berkaitan Penggambaran Drones mereka dalam Program Terkini yang digelar ‘Sensasionalist’

    DJI, one of the world’s leading drone manufacturers, has formally lodged a complaint against the BBC for a pair of “biased” programs they aired on drone safety. DJI claim the broadcaster included little of the information they provided for the programs, and that the shows were sensationalist by focusing on high-risk incidents like the Gatwick Airport drone crisis.

    The two programs in question are BBC Panorama’s “The Gatwick Drone Attack”, and BBC Horizon’s “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones,” that aired on April 15th and July 1st respectively.

    You may recall the Gatwick Airport drone drama of last Christmas, which led to hundreds of flight cancellations. This was the focus of the first show, while the second centered upon “the technology behind drones and whether the related UK safety measures are adequate.”

    But now DJI’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Communication, Dr. Barbara Stelzner, has released an open letter, detailing the company’s annoyances. She and the team accuse the BBC of failing to “inform, educate, and entertain” the British public on drones as promised.

    DJI are unhappy because they feel “little to none” of the information they put forward for the projects was taken on board. As Stelzner explains, “only about one minute of an hour-long programme [Horizon] was given to the multitude of benefits that drone technology has to offer society.” She also alleges the BBC were more interested in “boost[ing] viewing figures by focusing on sensational, high-risk scenarios that are vanishingly rare or almost impossible.”

    In the full letter, which you can read here, she goes on to list all of the safety features she believes the BBC didn’t give adequate coverage to, and questioned the legitimacy of some of the Horizon report.

    She finishes the letter by stating DJI “would welcome the opportunity to work with the BBC on a ‘Drones For Good’ documentary which would seek to go some way in addressing the balance in a currently extremely one-sided, negative media landscape.”

    Responding the very next day, the BBC replied:

    From the outset, and repeatedly during the film the positive uses of drones and the efforts the industry has taken to make them safe was referred to. The film does not claim that drone technology is unsafe, but rather that in can be used maliciously when in the wrong hands.

    With drones becoming increasingly widely available, it’s likely DJI will face further struggles as more members of the public with little training will cause drone accidents and create bad press.

  • Teknologi drone akan digunakan untuk melindungi sempadan negara, Timbalan Menteri Kewangan Malaysia

    KUALA LUMPUR: Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (MAF) sedang membangunkan konsep doktrin dan operasi untuk kenderaan udara tanpa pemandu (UAV) supaya mereka boleh digunakan dengan berkesan dan cekap dalam melindungi sempadan negara.

    Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan Liew Chin Tong berkata teknologi UAV didapati berkesan dari segi ketahanan, operasi jarak jauh, keupayaan dan kelebihannya kerana memiiliki banyak sensor.

    “MAF bersetuju dan mengakui kepentingan teknologi UAV untuk keperluan semasa dan masa depan sebagai salah satu strategi peperangan serta meningkatkan keupayaannya untuk memantau sempadan darat dan maritim negara.

    “MAF sudah menggunakan UAV untuk tujuan pengawasan dan juga bekerja dengan Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Malaysia untuk tujuan pemetaan,” kata Liew semasa sesi soal jawab di Dewan Negara hari ini.

    Beliau menjawab Theodore Douglas Lind mengenai samada teknologi drone akan diperkenalkan dan digunakan oleh MAF sebagai strategi perang yang baru untuk terus berdaya saing dengan angkatan bersenjata di negara-negara jiran.

    Liew berkata teknologi UAV juga akan digunakan dalam perisikan, pengawasan, pemerolehan sasaran dan aktiviti peninjauan (Istar) dalam “masa sebenar” dan disatukan ke dalam sistem Operasi Centric Operation Centrality (NCO) MAF yang sedang dibangunkan.

    “Ini dilihat sebagai pengukuhan sistem pemantauan darat serta ruang udara negara.

    “MAF telah lama mempunyai idea untuk mengintegrasikan teknologi dalam pelbagai bidang (dari segi operasinya).

    “Kementerian Pertahanan (Mindef) juga akan mengambil kira Revolusi Perindustrian 4.0, termasuk penggunaan dan operasi UAV dan kecerdasan buatan (artificial intelligence). Semua ini akan dilaksanakan dengan sewajarnya, “katanya.

    Sumber: Aeronerve Malaysia

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