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How the Draganfly pandemic drone trial in Westport,CT ended abruptly

How the Draganfly pandemic drone trial in Westport, CT ended abruptly

Last week, in Westport, CT the Draganfly pandemic drone trial came to an abrupt end when concerned citizens saw video footage showing how AI was able to identify people displaying symptoms of possible coronavirus Infection. A detailed article in Venture Beat provides great insight in the test and why it was abruptly ended. Below are some of the highlights.

After a successful first phase the Draganfly pandemic drone trial was halted

Emil Protalinski writes for Venture Beat that:

By March, Draganfly had licensed the machine vision and AI tech needed to offer social distancing and health monitoring services from the air. Demand to test the technology was “insatiable,” not just from government and law enforcement, but also from health care, airline, cruise, hospitality, theme park, and other commercial industries. By mid-April, the police department in Westport, Connecticut had a pilot underway, the first of its kind in the U.S. Moreover, Draganfly had three to seven more U.S. pilots planned. By April 23, the Westport pilot was dead.

The public and private sectors are desperate for technology that can help limit human contact and provide early detection data on the implementation and effectiveness of measures like social distancing.

Drones could play a critical role in detecting and tracking outbreaks, safeguarding public health and business operations.

Draganfly partnered with the University of Southern Australia to get acces to the AI software it needed to scan crowds for people displaying possible symptoms of the coronavirus, such as a fever, coughing and increased heart rate. The software can also monitor and measure if people are maintaining a safe social distance.

Draganfly and the university took the technology and adapted it for social distancing and health monitoring. To be clear, the Vital Intelligence Project had never been strapped to a drone and pointed at a crowd before the Westport pilot.

Draganfly started its ‘pandemic drone’ test flights in Westport, Connecticut to identify social distancing and detect symptoms presented by the virus.

After the 60-day, three-phase Westport trial successfully completed the first phase, the test was abruptly ended.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said, “in our good faith effort to get ahead of the virus and potential need to manage and safely monitor crowds and social distancing in this environment, our announcement was perhaps misinterpreted, not well-received, and posed many additional questions. We heard and respect your concerns, and are therefore stepping back and reconsidering the full impact of the technology and its use in law enforcement protocol.”

High end drones outfitted with cameras and zoom lenses, such as the Draganfly aircraft would be able to scan large areas quickly monitor the health of a population. The drone and software could also be used to observe if people are applying safe social distancing rules. In the videos below you can see the drone and AI software in action.

Apart from the halted Westport trial, Draganfly has more projects lined up that will start in the coming weeks. In these projects both fixed installations and drones will be used.

You can read the entire article here.

Haye Kesteloo

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