Drones remind citizens in India to maintain social distancing.

Nations Use Drones to Fight COVID-19 Virus Worldwide

Drones of all shapes, sizes, and lifting capacities are being introduced worldwide in many aspects of life, from the delivery of products, capturing landscape images and now to help people social distance from one another.

Newscientist.com posted an article this week by Donna Lu that outlines how India is the latest to use drones for public safety.

In India, police are using AI-equipped drones developed by U.S. start-up Skylark Labs to monitor evening curfews and the distance between people who are outside during the day. The drones are being flown in six cities in the northern state of Punjab, and are also being tested out in the southern city of Bangalore, says Skylark Labs CEO Amarjot Singh.

Each drone is fitted with a camera and an AI that can detect humans within a range of 150 meters to 1 kilometer. If it spots people it can send an alert to police in the district located nearest to the sighting. This is a different system than the robodogs being used in Singapore to do essentially the same job, keeping people 6 feet apart with vocal reminders.

“Previously, the police had no idea of where people were gathering, so now they are able to view larger areas,” says Singh.

In the United States, authorities in several states have used drones fitted with cameras and loudspeakers to broadcast messages urging social distancing.

Some firms have also floated the idea of using drones equipped with thermal imaging to identify potentially infected people with fevers. However, the World Health Organization suggests that “temperature screening alone may not be very effective” at detecting COVID-19.

Drones are being used in the UK and China as well.

In the UK, Derbyshire Police were criticized for drone footage posted on social media in March, appearing to shame people exercising in the Peak District, even though they were adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Drones were also used by Chinese authorities at highway checkpoints in February when the COVID-19 outbreak spread domestically there.

As we have featured in other stories here at seeflection.com, the use of technology can easily be abused by law enforcement authorities, and several laws attempt to curb that type of surveillance abuse.

read more at newscientist.com