Guwahati : A start-up, Marut Dronetech Private Limited, founded by IIT Guwahati alumni has developed and deployed drones for spraying disinfectant in public spaces to prevent Coronavirus. To control COVID-19 situation, drones have proved to be of great use as seen in countries like China and South Korea.
Marut Dronetech is working with the Government of Telangana and departments across the state to deploy drones for public safety applications. Recently, Karimnagar Municipal Corporation, Telangana, had deployed customised drones of Marut Drones for spraying disinfectants in Mukarampur area of Karimnagar where 10 Indonesians and 1 local had tested positive for COVID-19. Disinfectants were also sprayed at District Collectorate, Municipal Corporation, District Hospital, Bus Station, Auto stand, markets, Police Commissionerate and Rythu Bazars.
In a given time, it is seen that drones disinfect 50 times more area than traditional methods and can keep human operators out of harm. Thus, they prove to be efficient, avoids any cross infections and stops the spread of a pandemic.
Speaking about his start-up and the way it can contribute in this situation, Mr. Prem Kumar Vislawath, Co-Founder and CEO of Marut Dronetech Private Limited, said, “At a time when countries across the world are submitting to mass lockdowns owing to the ongoing pandemic, Drone has emerged as a fresh breath of air, by proving to be an alternative and plausible lifeline for stranded populations advised social-distancing, at the time of the COVID-19 crisis. Nations across the world have imposed quarantines in an attempt to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Drones could be the best solution to spray disinfectants and reduce infections, monitor people movement for crowd control, emergency delivery of medicines to those quarantined and elders. The contactless, fast-paced operations will strengthen anti-COVID-19 efforts of the government.”
Marut drones have also developed Public Monitoring and Warning Drones which are fitted with a camera and speaker. These can be used by personnel to monitor places especially with high disease prevalence for crowd gathering and give appropriate instructions, using fitted loudspeakers, to people. As 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 seen moving around streets and government personnel are having a hard time implementing a strict lockdown.
Mr. Prem Kumar Vislawath has also identified new ways in which drones can be deployed to combat the virus. According to him, drones can also be used for:
1. Temperature Check – Thermal Imaging
To limit the risk of the personnel getting infected while conducting the temperature checks, drones equipped with infrared cameras to test temperature measurements can be used. While these kinds of drones are commonly used for public safety operations or inspections, with proper calibration, these drones 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 in the identification of infection in a person at a much early stage and can prove to be vital in the present scenario.
Marut Drones 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 officer remains at a safe distance away. While the results are encouraging, it is essential to mention this solution is not designed to be used for standard medical procedures and data needs to be reverified with manual methods before taking any action.
2. Medical Delivery Drone of Critical Supplies
Drones can be used to 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 kms in 8 minutes, which is 80times 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 idea to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. In collaboration with the Emerging Technologies wing of Telangana government, Apollo Hospitals and World Economic Forum, Marut Drones demonstrated with blood, vaccines, diagnostic medical samples and long-tail medicine.
The delivery works on a hub-and-spoke model. The team gets a message on the inventory needed. After the regular pre-flight tests and checks of wind condition, audio pilot systems, GPS tracker, the package is loaded at the central hub and the drones take off. The coordinates are fed into the system and health examiner picks up the vials at the drop-off point.
Such ways can complement disease control measures undertaken by the Government and make the fight against COVID-19 effective, efficient, fast and with less externalities.
The alumni have been featured in the Forbes list of ’30 Under 30 – Asia – Industry, Manufacturing & Energy 2020′ (https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2020/asia/industry-manufacturing-energy/#2c8179b86dbc)