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Drones Used Deliver Goods for Citizens under Quarantine in Indonesia

As COVID-19 swept the globe in early 2020, technology firms scrambled to repurpose their products to combat the pandemic. This repurposing was particularly noticeable in the civilian drone industry, where companies predicted that the pandemic would demonstrate the value of their mapping, inspection, and delivery technology. Companies hoped that by adapting drones for everything from monitoring social-distance requirements to delivering medical supplies, a previously drone-sceptical public would be won over once and for all.

Drones have been in the delivery business for quite some time, from pizza delivery to the delivery of critical time-bound medical supplies. The method of controlling the delivery drone is distinct from that of other drone applications.

A group of drone enthusiasts in Indonesia are using their aerial skills to help during the pandemic by providing contactless medicine and food delivery to Covid-19 patients who are isolated at home. Armed with five drones, the seven-person team has been delivering goods around the clock in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, since early July.

As per its founder and coordinator, the ‘Makassar Recover Drone Medic’ team is collaborating with the local coronavirus task force to deliver medicine at least five times per day. They made up to 25 rounds of deliveries in one day during the peak of the latest outbreak in July. In order to contain a devastating wave of Covid-19 infections caused by the Delta variant, many Indonesian cities, including Makassar, have imposed mobility restrictions. Since the pandemic began, Indonesia has reported over four million cases and 131,000 fatalities.

This mission is a matter of pride. It’s not every day that we are needed and participate in disaster management to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

– Drone team’s founder

The mayor of Makassar stated that authorities planned to expand the use of drones to nearby islands as well as provide deliveries to around 800 people who were isolated on a ship docked off the coast of Makassar. “The range of (each) drone is around seven kilometres (4.35 miles), so it is possible to reach the islands,” he said.

Beyond visible line-of-sight technology is required for delivery drones to fly autonomously. Drones will be able to deliver packages to customers’ homes using GPS systems. However, there may be potential stumbling blocks. Automatic sense and avoidance systems are required to prevent in-air and ground accidents, whether the object is a bird, a tree, or even another drone. The skies would soon be under the control of an unmanned traffic management system (UTM). Built-in sensors and cameras will be able to detect the proximity and speed of a nearby object, allowing the drone to take appropriate action to avoid the obstacle.

The drone can generate paths that are optimised for no-fly zones, elevation, and obstacle avoidance on its own. Deployed tags at the desired location aid in the precise landing and delivery of the package. The drones also assist in monitoring traffic and human movement in the city, as well as pinpointing areas to target with Covid-19 tests. “This mission is a matter of pride. It’s not every day that we are needed and participate in disaster management to tackle the spread of Covid-19,” said the drone team’s founder

While many drones are capable of being autonomous, there are numerous challenges, such as landing a drone in a known or unknown environment. Dropping packages to delivering them from the air is a difficult task to master. There are also security risks because drones are expensive machinery that people will want to steal or damage. There is also the issue of customer safety, which all of the major players in the drone delivery industry are currently dealing with.

There are numerous challenges, but with great software, development time, and adequate training, all these issues can be resolved. In contrast, drones are poised to become the future of logistics, thanks to their lower costs, increased convenience, and delivery times of less than 30 minutes.

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