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South Australian researchers create coronavirus detection drones

Researchers at the University of South Australia are working on coronavirus detection drones capable of detecting temperature, heart, and respiratory rates, as well as detecting people sneezing and coughing in crowds. The “pandemic drone” is being created in partnership with Draganfly Inc, one of the largest enterprise drone companies to date.

The University of South Australia and Draganfly have partnered up to create a coronavirus drone dubbed the “pandemic drone.” The drone will be fitted with a specialized sensor and a computer vision system capable of detecting vital signs that are linked to having coronavirus.

The team of researchers is lead by Defense Chair of Sensor Systems  Professor Javaan Chahl who is working with Draganfly to integrate commercial, medical, and government customers.

So far, the team has been able to accurately measure heart rate and breathing rate of people from a distance of five to 10 meters, up to 50 meters with a fixed camera. An algorithm has also been developed to detect sneezing and coughing.

Chahl also had the following to share on the technology originally created for use in war zones and natural disasters.

It might not detect all cases, but it could be a reliable tool to detect the presence of the disease in a place or in a group of people. Now, shockingly, we see a need for its use immediately, to help save lives in the biggest health catastrophe the world has experienced in the past 100 years.

Draganfly CEO Cameron Chell had the following to share on working on such an important project.

We are honored to work on such an important project given the current pandemic facing the world with COVID-19. Health and respiratory monitoring will be vital not only for detection but also to understand health trends.

Other companies with large-scale thermal imaging and heat detection hardware and software include Flir, which we’ve covered previously.

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Photo: Thomas Griesbeck



Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.