A drone, which can detect heart and respiratory rates, is being developed to detect Coronavirus in crowds.

The ‘pandemic drone‘ device will detect people sneezing and coughing in large social gatherings – and is expected to be available in six months.

The University of South Australia, which has developed the new gadget, is working with drone technology company Draganfly Inc.

It will help detect people with Covid-19 in airports, offices, airports, cruise ships, aged care homes and other large crowds.

The researchers are using algorithms to detect temperature and coughing and sneezing movements at their laboratory in Adelaide, South Australia.

Professor Javaan Chahl, who is leading the project, said: “We see a need for its use immediately, to help save lives in the biggest health catastrophe the world has experienced in the past 100 years.


“It might not detect all cases, but it could be a reliable tool to detect the presence of the disease in a place or in a group of people.”

In 2017, Chahl’s group achieved global recognition when they revealed image-processing could trace a human’s heart from drone video.

They have shown that heart and breathing rate can be measured five to 10 metres away from people.

Algorithms can interpret human actions such as sneezing and coughing, according to the researchers.

They suggest that elderly falls, signs of life in war zones and monitoring babies’ heart rates in neonatal incubators can be monitored with drones. The announcement comes as 468,644 causes of coronavirus have been confirmed – and the death toll has topped 21,000 globally.