Chinese dronemaker DJI has already taken steps to deploy its drones in China in an effort to help contain coronavirus. Notably, the company was usng its Agras drones, which are designed for agricultural spraying (usually pesticides and herbicides) to spray disinfectant in potentially affected areas in China.
But as the U.S. now leads the world in highest number of coronavirus cases, DJI is now turning its attention to helping aid in the US coronavirus outbreak.
DJI this month announced that it would distribute 100 drones to 43 police, fire and public safety organizations, spread throughout 22 different states. DJI claims this would be the largest single deployment of drones to fight coronavirus.
DJI said it is doling out Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom platforms, including include the speaker, spotlight and beacon accessories and up to five additional batteries.
“This particular quick deploy platform has become a first choice by many departments across the globe as it is a tool with multiple use-cases during this pandemic,” according to a statement from DJI.
The movement is part of DJI’s Disaster Relief Program, created last fall with public safety agencies who helped handle natural disaster emergencies like tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and floods in mind.
Coronavirus was not exactly what DJI had in mind. But given today’s situation, DJI said it slightly “retooled the program to mobilize for fighting a single problem from coast to coast.”
Each of the 43 public safety organizations receiving drones will deploy them for their own unique use cases.
But here’s one example: The Daytona Beach Police Department in Florida said it would attach loudspeakers to Mavic 2 Enterprise drones to spot groups of people gathering and warn them to disperse without endangering any police officers. That’s a similar idea to one suggested by the Chula Vista Police Department in San Diego, Calif.
Here’s another drone in action from the Wyckoff Police Department in New Jersey:
Other companies (unaffiliated with DJI) are using drones for uses like delivering medical supplies to quarantined areas.
DJI will be hosting a webinar at 11 a.m. PT on Wednesday, April 15 “to help share lessons learned” about drone use during coronavirus.
DJI also announced in February that it would pledge almost $1.5 million in aid to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Currently, DJI’s Disaster Relief Program only serves qualifying public relief agencies. But if you’re looking for a free or cheap drone, there are also options for you. DJI itself offers discounted drones to teachers, students and other people associated with education through its DJI Educational Discount. And software developers are eligible for steep discounts via DJI’s Research discount program.
As far as other drone businesses looking for financial support right now, here’s a guide to financial relief and freebies for drone pilots and small business owners affected by coronavirus.