Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, is known for its paradisiacal landscapes and visionary eco-tourism initiatives, but today, it is making a name for itself in a previously unknown area:  that of drone technology. A startup from the coastal state has developed a drone  that contains artificial intelligence (AI). The aim of the new technology is to help put an end to COVID-19 through a combination of body temperature monitoring, delivery of essential commodities, and spraying of disinfectants in public areas.
 
 
 
Why AI?
 
‘Garud’ is the name of the new drone, designed by AI Aerial Dynamics at the Maker Village – India’s most ambitious hardware incubator and electronic systems and design manufacturing center. The drone has the ability to monitor main and auxiliary roads, aside from residential areas, and aerodromes that have been closed owing to the pandemic. This type of drone requires special permission to carry out these vital tasks. Generally, a license or  legal permission is required for drones which weigh more than a specified weight, as well as those flying for commercial reasons. Specific distances from people and buildings have to be kept in order to guarantee safety. Of course, depending on the circumstances,  some drone pilots receive exemptions from flying the devices within an approved radius. 
 
 
 
Specific Uses Of Garud Against COVID-19
 
Garud is able to collect thermal data via technology comprising a range of IR sensors and advanced digital technology known as EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution). It can also collect swabs from people tested for the virus, thereby playing a vital role in detection and containment. The virus can carry ‘cargo’ of up to 60kg, thus equipping it to carry vital material  and deliver essential goods to those in need. Various drones can be used at once to spray/disinfect extensive areas. 
 
 
 
Garud Can Communicate
 
Garud drones have a loudspeaker which enables them to communicate and share information on the tasks they are carrying out. Thus, they significantly reduce the need for human staff and help in the reduction of contagion rates. They also help ensure that human workers are where they are most needed, since so many essential tasks can be delegated.
 
 
 
Garud Across The World
 
Garud is currently launching an aggregator service model in a total of 26 cities in Chennai, India, and will soon commence its spraying functions. However, interest from abroad has seen Spain, Brazil and the U.S. request the manufacturing of 1,500 drones. It is expected that they will be used to spray private and public institutions such as schools. The makers are also in contact with food delivery companies and e-commerce companies keen on using the drones for delivery purposes. 
 
 
 
Garud’s brand new, AI drone will soon be playing a role in the battle against COVID. By spraying disinfectant, carrying delivery parcels, and communicating with citizens, it can significantly reduce the need for person-to-person contact and therefore reduce the risk of infection. The manufacturers have seen a 300% rise in the demand for the drones, which may continue to exercise vital functions in the area of communication and delivery long after the pandemic has disappeared.
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