Hyderabad: Marut Dronetech Private limited, a start-up launched by an alumnus of IIT-Guwahati, has developed and deployed drones to spray disinfectants in public spaces to prevent the spread of Corona virus. Drones have been used in countries like China and South Korea to combat the pandemic.

Marut Dronetech is working with various departments of the Telangana government. Recently, Karimnagar municipal corporation deployed Marut’s customised drones to spray disinfectant in Mukarampur. Ten Indonesians and one local person had tested positive for Corona virus in Karimnagar. Disinfectants was also sprayed at the district collectorate, municipal corporation, district hospital, bus stations, auto stands, markets, the police commissionerate, and Rythu bazaars.

Drones disinfect 50 times more area than traditional methods and can keep human operators out of harm. Thus, they have proved to be more efficient and also helped avoid cross-infection and stop the spread of the virus.

The co-founder and CEO of Marut, Prem Kumar Vislawath, said, “At a time when countries across the world are on lockdown due to the pandemic, drones have become an alternative and plausible lifeline for stranded people who have been advised to maintain social distance. Nations across the world have imposed quarantines in an attempt to control the spread of the novel Corona virus. Drones could be the best solution to spray disinfectant and reduce infections, monitor movement of people, for crowd control, and emergency delivery of medicines to those quarantined and elders. The contactless, fast-paced operations will strengthen anti-COVID-19 efforts of the government.”

Marut has also developed public monitoring and warning drones equipped with a camera and a speaker. These can be used for crowd gathering, giving instructions using fitted loudspeakers, and to monitor areas with high disease prevalence. Since this is much faster than regular patrolling operations, it can be very efficient not only for patrolling but also to spread the message. These drones can be used in places where people are still out on the streets and the government personnel are having a hard time implementing a strict lockdown.

Marut drones can also be used to check people’s temperature through thermal imaging. To limit the risk of personnel getting infected while checking temperatures, drones equipped with infrared cameras to test temperature measurements can be used. While these drones are commonly used for public safety operations or inspections, with proper calibration, they can instead help measure body temperature. Any abnormalities can be marked as suspects for COVID-19. This information can be used by health workers and officials to take further measures. This helps identify infected people at an early stage and can prove to be vital in the present scenario.

Marut team tested different ways to calibrate airborne infrared cameras to measure body temperature. Results showed that by installing a cotton swab within the field of view of the thermal camera, the camera can get an accurate reading. The calibrated drone camera can then be used to measure body temperatures while the officials remain at a safe distance. While the results are encouraging, it is essential to mention that this is not designed to be used for standard medical procedures and data needs to be verified with manual methods before taking any action.

The drones can also help deliver medicines and other critical supplies to reduce unnecessary human contact. It also speeds up the process significantly. During a recent trial, it was observed that a drone covered a distance of 12 km in eight minutes, which is 80 times faster than traditional delivery. Drone delivery will enable affected households to receive medicine and supplies without risking the spread of infection.

Recently, the start-up successfully demonstrated its use to the directorate general of civil aviation and the ministry of civil aviation. In collaboration with the emerging technologies wing of the Telangana government, Apollo Hospitals, and World Economic Forum, Marut Drones demonstrated with blood, vaccines, diagnostic medical samples, and long-tail medicine.

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