Unmanned aerial systems, such as small blimps, could be used as novel airborne measures to monitor people in terms of physical distancing and other Covid-19 prevention measures, says University of Johannesburg (UJ) Institute of Intelligent Systems Professor Qingguo Wang.
He explains that a “pandemic drone” and other aviation technology could be used to ensure citizens comply with government-instituted measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Wang also notes that UJ and researchers at Beihang University, in Beijing, China, have joined forces to find an alternative solution to ensure compliance with physical distancing measures that were implemented by most countries worldwide.
“The result is an unmanned aerial vehicle named Rudderless.”
Rudderless is a new generation of drones. “The interdisciplinary team has reinvented the blimp by designing technology that could be used to monitor physical distancing, spot if people are wearing masks and even track whether they have a fever,” he states.
About 4.5 m long, 1.2 m wide and 2 m high, with a weight of about 8 kg, the airship’s working time is about four hours.
He envisions that such drones will be used with thermal and infrared cameras, producing real-time images to monitor distance between people. The information can then be relayed to authorities on the ground, through wireless communication, to enforce the measures.
“We trust that the rollout of the autonomous airship technologies will be instrumental during the pandemic,” concludes Wang.