Drone: A lethal weapon against COVID-19

By Editor 18-May-2020

To combat the dreaded pandemic, Tamil Nadu-based Anna University has developed the world’s first petrol-engine long endurance drone which can disinfect large areas. The drones created by the University have already been effectively deployed in Chennai City and based on this success, the University is planning to market the drone.

Countries around the world are attempting various means to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) after it caused severe loss of lives on every. In India also, efforts are underway on a war-footing to fight the disease and Tamil Nadu-based Anna University has contributed to the cause by developing the world’s first petrol-engine long endurance drone which can disinfect large areas.

In fact, the drones created by the University have already been effectively deployed in Chennai City. Based on the success, the University is also planning to market the drone for the good cause. Caused by the coronavirus, officially referred to as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), COVID-19 is highly infectious.

The world is fighting against the disease by preventing its spread and controlling it to improve the chances of saving human lives. Scientists have suggested that there is a possibility of aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 similar to respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis, measles and chickenpox. In aerosol transmission, disease-causing organisms are carried through air by aerodynamic forces or propelled through the air by force similar to an aircraft becoming airborne.

The aerodynamic characteristics and transmission pathways of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols are very difficult to identify in the real world due to the difficulties in sampling coronavirus and challenges in quantification at low concentration. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 was sampled and its aerosol deposition at 30 sites was studied in two designated hospitals and public areas in Wuhan, China where the world’s first cases were reported.

Further, the SARSCoV-2 copy counts of aerosol samples were quantified using a robust droplet digital PCR-based detection method. It had been observed that the coronavirus or viral RNA concentration in aerosol is expressed in micro size. Hence there arose the need to spray the disinfectant using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) as they covered the high altitudes of airborne virus.