By THOMAS MACAULAY
Aerospace firm Draganfly has conducted the first US test flights of its “pandemic drones,” the company announced today.
The drones are fitted with sensors and computer vision systems that measure body temperature, breathing, and heart rates from up to 190 feet. They can also spot if someone’s sneezing, coughing, or following social distancing rules.
The test flights were conducted in Westport, Connecticut, which became a coronavirus hotspot following a private party where dozens of people were exposed to the virus.
According to Draganfly, Westport will use the tech to protect at-risk groups, such as seniors and crowds gathering in public places.
Westport Police Lieutenant Anthony Prezioso told local news outlet Patch that the tests had been going on for “approximately the last five days.”
“It is anticipated that this will continue to be in effect through the summer months of July and August as we anticipate the need to continue to work to reinforce social distancing measures in order to limit and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
Draganfly has made a big effort to allay concerns that measures to contain the coronavirus are expanding the surveillance state.
The company claims that its software uses biometric readings but no facial recognition, and that all the data it collects is anonymized.
“The system does not collect individualized data. The system does not identify people,” Draganfly CEO Cameron Chell said in youtube video.
“The system takes population samples and provides this anonymized data to our public safety officials so that we can have clear data giving us an indication of population health, and allowing our officials to make decisions based on real data.”
The company also has eyes on future pandemics — and business opportunities.
“This system, and our work with public safety officials, is so important, because never again do we want to be in a situation where we’re having to make such drastic guesses for such tremendous decisions that affect not just human lives, but also the economy and the world population,” said Chell.
“These types of decisions can’t be made in retrospect — they have to be made in real-time.”