Researchers are developing a ‘pandemic drone’ to detect coronavirus

A ‘pandemic drone’ to remotely monitor and detect people with infectious respiratory conditions is being developed by the University of South Australia in partnership with a Canadian company.

Photo
A hovering drone fitted with a computer vision system will be able to detect people with coronavirus.
Source: Shutterstock

The drone will be fitted with a specialised sensor and computer vision system that can monitor temperature, heart and respiratory rates, as well as detect people sneezing and coughing in crowds, offices, airports, cruise ships, aged care homes and other places where groups of people may work or congregate.

The UniSA team led by Defence Chair of Sensor Systems Professor Javaan Chahl, who holds a joint appointment DST, will work with Draganfly Inc, a North American drone technology company, to immediately start integrating commercial, medical and government customers.

Professor Chahl, working alongside Dr Ali Al-Naji and Asanka Perera, achieved global recognition in 2017 when they demonstrated image-processing algorithms that could extract a human’s heart rate from drone video.

Since then they have demonstrated that heart rate and breathing rate can be measured with high accuracy within 5-10 metres of people, using drones and at distances of up to 50 metres with fixed cameras. They have also developed algorithms that can interpret human actions such as sneezing and coughing.

Chahl says the technology could be a viable screening tool for the COVID-19 pandemic. “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.”

According to him, the technology was originally envisaged for war zones and natural disasters as well as remotely monitoring heart rates of premature babies in incubators. “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 says his company will use its sensor, software and engineering expertise to work with UniSA to integrate and deploy for government, medical and commercial customers. “We are honoured 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,” Chell says.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Wearable tracks COVID-19 key symptoms

Wearable tracks COVID-19 key symptoms

Researchers have developed a wearable device to catch early signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19 and to monitor patients as the illness progresses.

A wearable COVID-19 early warning system

A wearable COVID-19 early warning system

A remote early warning system for the detection of COVID-19 symptoms among frontline medical staff is showing promising results.

Wearable devices set to diagnose preeclampsia or epilepsy

Wearable devices set to diagnose preeclampsia or epilepsy

Transforming how common health conditions are diagnosed using point-of-care and wearable bio diagnostic devices is the goal of a new University of South Australia project.

Wearable sensor tracks Vitamin C levels in sweat

Wearable sensor tracks Vitamin C levels in sweat

Researchers have developed a wearable, non invasive Vitamin C sensor that could provide a new, highly personalized option for users to track their daily nutritional intake and dietary adherence.

A sensor to improve performance of underactive bladders

A sensor to improve performance of underactive bladders

Researchers developed a device that can monitor bladder volume in real time and effectively empty the bladder.

Necklace detects abnormal heart rhythm

Necklace detects abnormal heart rhythm

A necklace which detects abnormal heart rhythm will be showcased for the first time on EHRA Essentials 4 You, a scientific platform of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Nutrition smart patch reduced diabetes risk

Nutrition smart patch reduced diabetes risk

A wearable smart patch will deliver precision data to help people personalise their diets and reduce their risk of developing lifestyle-related chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes.

Sensors woven into a shirt can monitor vital signs

Sensors woven into a shirt can monitor vital signs

Researchers have developed a way to incorporate electronic sensors into stretchy fabrics, allowing them to create shirts or other garments that could be used to monitor vital signs such as temperature, respiration, and heart rate.

In-ear sensors to help in fight against COVID-19

In-ear sensors to help in fight against COVID-19

Scientists plan to use high-tech biometric sensors for 24-hour monitoring of COVID-19 patients in home isolation.

Popular articles