In the fight against the coronavirus, we have seen countries such as China, Spain, and France turn to drones to help communicate to people and urge them to stay inside. We had not yet seen similar drone use in the US until now. The Chula Vista Police Department in California has started to use drones to enforce the coronavirus lockdown.
The Chula Vista Police Department has always been at the forefront with their use of unmanned aerial vehicles. They have a well-detailed drone program that has resulted in over 250 drone-assisted arrests.
Now, the Chula Vista PD has started to use drones to help enforce the coronavirus lockdown. The Financial Times [paywall] reports that drones outfitted with loudspeakers, such as the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, are being used to urge people to stay indoors.
Furthermore, the Chula Vista PD has recently purchased two DJI Matrices 210 worth around $11,000 each.
‘We have not traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but… if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse — we could do it without getting police officers involved,’ said Chula Vista Police captain Vern Sallee. ‘The outbreak has changed my view of expanding the [program] as rapidly as I can.’
The use of Chinese-made drones by government agencies has been under threat in the US even though their use to keep people safe or rescue people has steadily increased. Especially in dealing with the highly contagious and rapidly spreading coronavirus, the use of drones to communicate to people is a way to keep police officers at a safe distance from people who might be infected.
Chief executive Spencer Gore from Impossible Aerospace reportedly said that he was “working like crazy” to help other law enforcement agencies implement drone programs.
‘What we saw in China, and what we’re probably going to see around the world, is using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to fly around to see if people are gathering where they shouldn’t be, and telling them to go home,’ Gore said. ‘It seems a little Orwellian but this could save lives.’
Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs for DJI, said that the Federal Aviation Administration should “readily grant waivers on restrictions that might impede beneficial operations.”
What do you think about using drones in the fight against COVID-19 and to enforce the coronavirus lockdown? Let us know in the comments below.
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