How drones are helping with COVID-19 and could be an even bigger opportunity post-pandemic
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Prior to COVID-19 drones had seen solid growth to the point of becoming a $100bn industry in 2019.
With resources in the global economy being reallocated at the greatest scale since World War Two, many other industries have had to put future plans on hold.
But rather than shut up shop drones have played a part.
In the US, 43 police agencies in 21 states have been given free drones as part of a disaster relief package from manufacturer DJI. These have the ability to detect temperatures and distance between people.
The Chinese government has used similar technology to monitor people’s movements but also to disinfect neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is working on a technology that enables drones to administer disinfection agents using nebulisation technology.
“This is especially important for highly infectious agents such as the COVID-19 virus,” Professor Leslie Yeo said.
Professor James Harland, also from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, suggested drones could be a major part of the post-COVID-19 world and not just for increased proactiveness of disease prevention.
“The whole post COVID-19 world is a whole unknown but it might accelerate the uptake of the use of drones,” he told Stockhead.
“Drones are already being used in things like surveillance of oceans and beaches — they’re another pair of eyes.
“But they can help with this idea of monitoring for the general good — more everyday things like the road toll, following cars to check if they’re obeying laws.”
The ASX is home to a handful of drone manufacturers.
Unlike other COVID-19 bandwagoners, the small caps in the drones space are yet to announce the the world they are helping in one form or another with the pandemic.
While some are reporting it’s business as usual, others are feeling the pinch.
DroneShield (ASX:DRO), which provides anti-drone solutions that intercept and scramble unfriendly drones, said yesterday it maintained a strong conviction sales pipeline at over $80m, boosted with governmental orders from the US and Middle East last month.
The company added that being government sector focused kept its credit risk low.
Meanwhile, Mobilicom (ASX:MOB) said orders had kept coming in during the March quarter, but admitted it had to cut staff and place some business development activities on the back backburner until the pandemic passed.
Pointerra (ASX:3DP) last updated the market a month ago. It operates slightly adjacent to the drone sector, as a data-capture and storage platform. The company says uptake has been increasing because of its ease of adoption and mobility advantages.
Other companies have remained silent, including landing technology maker ParaZero (ASX:PRZ), although its last announcement (on March 12) was hardly a bad sign. It signed a letter of intent to acquire a South African company that builds drones for civilian use.