At 5:30 a.m. DJI Epidemic Prevention Volunteer Service Team Leader Wang Xuan put out the call on WeChat. By midday, after he and 20 other volunteers wearing masks and goggles had assembled in Shenzhen’s Baolong Industrial Park. Two DJI P4R drones hovered overhead, surveying and mapping the environment from all angles, generating HD maps, and sending the planned operation route to ground control.
At 2:00 p.m. the mission began. The empty streets were now abuzz with the sound of agricultural spraying drones autonomously navigating through the district at a height of five meters and a speed of three meters per second, misting the environment with disinfectant. The drones cycled through the command centre for battery and spray replacement, and Wang’s team finished the 660 hectare area in about three hours.
Disinfection of public areas is a challenging but crucial process in the fight to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Ad hoc teams of DJI drone hobbyists have sprung up nationwide to provide this service for free.
Wang hasn’t stopped working since he first volunteered on February 6. His team has serviced schools, isolation wards, food waste treatment plants, waste incineration plants, livestock and poultry epidemic prevention centres, and more. The cumulative spraying area has reached one million square meters.
Shenzhen-based DJI is a leading drone and associated technologies company. There are about 55,000 DJI spraying drones used in farming in China, often with 15 litre capacity; and more than 60,000 drone pilots. Total disinfection coverage of DJI agricultural drones exceeds 600 million square meters across more than 1,000 villages. Plant protection professional Zhao Guo of Shishou City in Hubei Province told Synced he estimates each local township has 3 to 10 spraying drones.
The DJI Agricultural team has reported receiving more than 200 million requests nationwide for disinfection assistance. “Governments and property owners have disinfection needs and some have submitted requests to us,” says DJI Public Relations Director Xie Yi.
On February 3, DJI launched the “DJI Army Against the Virus” project, providing subsidies to support working pilots, with provisions for pilot protective kits and assistance to villages who perform drone disinfection. There is also support for drone failures and spare parts issues during missions.
Although DJI has done much to contribute, it is also lining up for essential supplies. One volunteer tells Synced that it is not easy to get N95 face masks and protective clothing. The availability of regular raincoats, rain boots, household rubber gloves, fisherman’s hats and goggles is also increasingly limited, forcing some drone teams to rely on disposable raincoats when on site or suspend operations while they await supplies.
Still, the fight continues. Drone-based disinfection efforts are now increasingly concentrated in the rural areas of Hubei and other provinces.
Source: Synced China
Localization: Meghan Han | Editor: Michael Sarazen