One Canadian drone company might play a starring role in helping Hollywood stay safer. As Hollywood resumes filming since lockdowns shut down most California industries, Draganfly is hoping for its place in the spotlight with its newest product, Draganfly Safe Set Solutions.
Draganfly’s Safe Set Solutions is a health and respiratory measurement platform, supposed to be used as a pre-screening tool to help identify possible infectious and respiratory conditions. Despite Draganfly being primarily a drone company, Safe Set Solutions is a ground-based technology that incorporates symptom pre-screening, elevated body temperature measurement, and social distancing digital display tools.
It’s not a drone — and it doesn’t function in the air. But it’s a very similar product, and it’s certainly an indicator that Draganfly is looking to diversify its revenue streams.
“Draganfly can uniquely provide data solutions on drones and — where applicable — if that technology can be used in non-drone applications, Draganfly is happy to provide it,” said Cameron Chell, CEO of Draganfly.
That said, most of the technology in Draganfly’s latest product largely mirrors a controversial, coronavirus-monitoring drone that Draganfly announced earlier this year. So controversial, in fact, that it drew protests and was ultimately shut down.
Draganfly’s controversial drone endeavor involved a partnership with the Westport Police Department in Connecticut, which said it would use their drones to detect people sneezing and coughing in crowds, while also displaying fever, temperature, heart and respiratory rates. Many drone industry leaders, including DJI, publicly came out over this use case as a potential privacy violation.
What’s interesting is that Draganfly’s Safe Set Solutions seems to be largely similar technology — but people don’t seem to mind. It could be simply because people already have a pre-existing aversion to drones monitoring us, despite the fact that surveillance has been widely used on land for years through traffic cameras, retail security cameras and more.
A 2017 Pew study found that 26% of U.S. adults feel nervous around drones. Throw in the stigma around actually being sick yourself, and concerns of “pandemic shaming,” and it’s easy to see why drones scanning crowds for people with fevers might not exactly be well-received.
But as the Los Angeles government requires safety protocols like health checks, protocol and workflow assessment to ensure proper social distancing and infection control, and designation of a workplace COVID-19 compliance officer, land-based monitoring methods might be more welcome as Hollywood seeks to safely reopen.
Still, Americans don’t love surveillance, on land or in the air. The majority of Americans say they are at least somewhat concerned about how much data is collected about them by both companies (79%) and the government (64%), according to a 2019 Pew report.
Today, Draganfly’s Safe Set Solutions product can be found on sets operated by Enderby Entertainment LLC, a motion picture and television production company, including two productions slated to begin this summer: Firewatch and Legacy, both recently acquired feature films. And while it’s being used on film sets, it could also be used in theoretically any area where people congregate, such as airports, schools, shopping malls and other high traffic locations.
Despite the backlash that Draganfly’s other drone product received, Draganfly says their Safe Set Solutions technology does not collect personal data or use facial recognition software.
Instead, it said its system is used to understand patterns and help global film productions companies make better decisions and react quicker to mitigate potential health threats.
The news does not mean that Draganfly is getting out of drones.
“We are still heavily working in the drone space of course,” Chell, CEO of Draganfly, said. “In certain circumstances, both our drone based technology and our fixed-based solutions will work in tandem.”
That also means, you might see similar coronavirus-symptom monitoring services in more drones.
“Certainly depending on the circumstances and set locations, this is possible to add Safe Set Solutions technology to our drone platform,” Chell said.
Is it a smart move for Draganfly to pivot out of drones and into other tech, like ground-based surveillance? Leave a comment below!