Drone giant DJI is stepping in on the fight to control the coronavirus outbreak in China. The Chinese dronemaker this month announced that it would pledge almost $1.5 million in aid to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.
But DJI is doing more than just giving out money. It’s putting its drones to work. The dronemaker announced that its Agras drones, which are designed for agricultural spraying (usually pesticides and herbicides) are spraying disinfectant in potentially affected areas.
And so far, DJI says it has sprayed disinfectant in over 3 million square meters in Shenzhen. That’s twice the size of Monaco, and about the same size as New York’s Central Park. (Shenzhen is the home of the DJI headquarters).
The DJI Agras drones are spraying a chlorine or ethyl alcohol-based disinfectant from the air, which DJI says is 50 times faster than traditional methods.
“They can cover far more ground than traditional methods, while reducing risk to workers who would otherwise spend more time potentially exposed to both the virus and the disinfectant,” according to a statement from DJI.
The Agras MG-1S is generally considered one of the best agricultural drones out there for spraying. The $15,000 drone is an octocopter (that means 8 arms and 8 motors), designed to carry 10kg of fluid to assist in pesticide and herbicide delivery. Four nozzles are located under some of the motors.
DJI added that it’s helping other counties employ their own disinfectant-spraying drones, with ambitions to cover 600 million square meters.
A number of other companies have also been at work looking for ways to use drones to control the coronavirus outbreak. Drone delivery company Antwork Robotics, which is a part of Japanese drone company Terra Drone, is delivering medical supplies between Xinchang County People’s Hospital, Xinchang County disease control center and Dashiju branch of Xinchang County People’s hospital — one of the hardest-hit areas.
XAG, a major agricultural company, also committed money to help fund efforts to use drones to spray disinfectant.
And in a more controversial use case, drones are “yelling” at people who don’t wear masks.
As of the day of publication, more than 1,100 people within mainland China have tied from the virus, and more than 44,500 people are confirmed to have the virus. Shenzhen, where DJI is primarily spraying, is about 730 miles from Wuhan, which is believed to be the original site of the coronavirus outbreak.