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Drones are being used to combat the coronavirus in China

Drones used to combat the coronavirus in China
(Image credit: DJI)

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, drone manufacturer DJI (opens in new tab) is using drones to help fight the spread (opens in new tab) of the virus. Working together with agricultural technology think tanks, DJI has adapted its Agras series of agricultural spraying drones to spray disinfectant across infection zones throughout China, including over 3 million square meters in Shenzen, where DJI is based.

In addition to spraying disinfectant, drones have also been fitted with loud-speakers to help disperse large crowds, which could easily spread the virus. Other drones have been fitted with thermal cameras to detect changes in people’s body temperature, which can help identify potential coronavirus cases. Now if this is all sounding a little dystopian and scary, well we’re right there with you, but these are fascinating examples of using drone technology to help make people’s lives better, or to even save lives.

According to the World Health Organisation (opens in new tab), as of February 18, 2020 there have been 73,332 reported cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with 72,528 of those cases being recorded in China. The virus has spread to 25 other countries, but in almost all cases these infections have been isolated and contained quickly thanks to an international effort to combat the outbreak.

The spread of the disease is also having a huge knock-on effect to the global economy, especially within the tech sector which has much of its manufacturing base in China. Apple and Huawei, which produce some of the world’s best smartphones (opens in new tab), have felt the impact of the virus, though others like Samsung have fared better (opens in new tab). MWC, the world’s biggest mobile phone trade show has also been cancelled this year (opens in new tab) due to concerns over spreading the virus.

Send in the drones

Drones are an emerging technology with an enormous scope for improving and enriching people’s lives. Drones are already being used by companies like Amazon to deliver packages to customers. They’re also often used in the construction industry to survey buildings for faults and damage - it’s much cheaper and safer to send a drone up to check rather than build a scaffold or winch a person down from the roof to check the side of a 10-story building.

There are also drones that can be used for entertainment and leisure, much like the best remote control planes (opens in new tab). These consumer drones can fly to impressive heights and speeds, while many have cameras attached which let you take stunning aerial photographs of the countryside. Looking to snap photos a little closer to the ground? Ceck out our list of the best thermal imaging cameras (opens in new tab), best compact cameras, or best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab).

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.