Can Drones Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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We’re living in “interesting” times, to say the least. Unless you hibernate in the deepest recesses of the world, cut off from civilization, then you’ve heard of the Coronavirus outbreak. It is – at the time of publishing this article – a global pandemic. Nearly every aspect of life has been impacted by the COVID-19 virus, from large public gatherings to entertainment features. Numerous countries are dealing with confirmed outbreaks numbering in the thousands and quarantines are common.

Containing the virus has forced the hand of many governments to enforce curfews and the closing of “non-essential” services. In the United States, a large number of people are left home while the country struggles to contain the harrowing number of confirmed patients. It’s a rough time, to say the least.

Drones And COVID-19

These are extraordinary circumstances we’re dealing with, because it’s rare that a global pandemic has “shut the world off” to such a degree. Notably, emergency and medical services have been impacted significantly, often short on supplies, space, and time. Because of this, any assistance to the hard working professionals of the medical world is no doubt invaluable.

It’s here, then, that commercial drones could find surprising use if implemented correctly. While it’s unclear if drones will be used during the COVID-19 outbreak, certainly they could be. Drones provide a few advantages – some of which we’ve gone over in other articles – and those said advantages could find use during the pandemic.

Drones And Fighting COVID-19

Depending on where the virus is, people are facing down several challenges: supplies and space. While drones can’t magic up either of those, it can greatly assist in the planning and distribution of resources if utilized correctly.

Those areas are where medical professionals are getting hit the hardest. Given the surge of cases, hospitals and emergency services are overwhelmed with the sheer number of patients requiring care and isolation. To combat this, some countries and in the case of America – states – build improvised hospital areas to help the sick. It’s worth noting, just because they’re treating those with Coronavirus doesn’t mean it stops other healthcare needs too. That’s one of the real dangers, in that the COVID-19 virus is choking traditional healthcare for others.

So how do drones potentially help?

There are two primary ways a drone could be utilized during this pandemic scenario. First, depending on the model, drones are equipped with high definition recording equipment for both video and photography. Additionally, it’s no secret drones are capable of reaching great heights, sometimes miles above ground. Given the scope of their aerial presence, a drone can inspect an area for future building and planning. Since we mentioned the construction of emergency medical areas, understanding how much space they would need from a bird’s eye view would be incredibly useful.

Now, what about supplies? If you’ve been following any form of news or social media regarding Coronavirus, you’ve no doubt seen the despair-inducing lack of supplies for medical teams. Whether it’s masks, ventilators, and other essentials, there aren’t enough to go around.

While emergency supplies are funneled into hard hit areas, drones can help here too. No, drones can’t manufacture them on the go (at least not yet), but they’re more than capable of delivering supplies to areas in a convenient manner. Heavy lift drones are a perfect example of this implementation. These drones can lift weights of several pounds, AKA a box of gloves and masks. Drones can then proceed to make deliveries within a healthcare area to professionals who need it, circumventing crowds and obstacles. Considering drones are already currently tested for delivery systems, this is the same logic, just a different scenario.

Those drones can also be used to deliver medicine and essentials to patients, where time is of the essence. Since drones can fly, they’re not limited by foot traffic.

Drones For Business

Of course, it’s not only the medical world getting hit by the pandemic. Business owners and staff are finding themselves burning cash too. While drones can’t give us our regular life back, they can assist in certain industries.

For example, drones will still play an integral role for agriculture. Agricultural drones already find use today by mapping land, and even watering crops versus traditional solutions. Depending on the industry, drones can potentially deliver as well, although this is a unique application and not a widespread practice.

Note that a drone as a business solution is still new territory up to experimentation, and there’s no industry standard model for, say, automated deliveries.

Drones For Fighting The COVID-19 Outbreak

Before You Use

We’re happy to offer recommendations, but keep in mind drone regulations may still apply even in a medical scenario. Be sure that flying drones in designated areas does not interfere with flight patterns of airplanes. Even during a pandemic, these laws can still apply.

We’re now at the all-important question: which drones are actually useful for the scenarios we’ve listed? That varies based on need, but we’ll offer a quickfire list of drones which could potentially be useful to medical staff during this COVID-19 crisis.

Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone

We opted for this drone due to its high-definition imaging capabilities and several automated functions, meaning its easier to pilot for entry level users.

Model is GPS based, meaning it’s easy to track, and returns to its remote on low batteries. Given a crowded medical situation, these things would come in handy while figuring out terrain for improvised hospital tents.

Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3

Though it’s more consumer and enthusiast oriented, the Cheerwing is easy to use and very affordable. If budget is an issue and multiple drones are needed, the Cheerwing can provide and improvised “fleet” for various medical scenarios.

It also comes with an automated flight option an HD camera. Shorter flight time, but shorter charge needs too.


Given the extraneous circumstances professionals find themselves in, conditions can be strenuous. The Splash Drone is a heavy-duty drone with lifting capabilities designed for outdoor scenarios. While it’s higher in the price tier, drones like this are designed for work – especially rescue operations.

Like our other choices it comes with a high definition camera. It carries a flotation device, although we hope that won’t be necessary.

DJI Matrice 600 Pro

We’ve talked about the Matrice Pro in our article about heavy lift drones, but it bears worth repeating here. Of any drone capable of carrying heavy medical supplies from point to point, the Matrice 600 Pro is the one to utilize. It has a carry capacity of 36 pounds, meaning its ideal for the scenarios we discussed before.

It’s one tradeoff is it’s a professional, industry level drone which requires a level of piloting experience.

Additionally, it’s the most expensive of the models we listed, clocking in around $5K USD.

As you can see, there are various models suited for medical and emergency applications, be it field observations and recording, supply delivery, and in some cases even security.


The COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of harrowing as it impacts the globe in a significant way. Dangerous to many, it’s debilitated many lives as governments struggle to isolate and treat the virus. Healthcare industries are hit harder as they work to meet the treatment demand, often needed any assistance they can get.
Drones may yet prove to be a useful solution. Whether they’ll see widespread application during the pandemic is still uncertain, but no doubt they can fit a very unique role during this trying time.

Remember to stay safe and follow all practices to keep yourself – and others – safe. Check the news routinely to see what areas are affected by Coronavirus and, as always, limit contact with people as often as possible.
Visit our website for additional information on drones and other recommendations.

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Jeremiah Burnett

What started as a gift for my two sons turned into a major hobby for me! After playing with my sons' quadcopter one winter afternoon, I quickly became obsessed with all things drone. I enjoy precision flying, creating stunning and smooth aerial videos, and taking beautiful photos of my hometown.

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