EagleHawk disinfectant drones can spray chemicals over stadiums, concert venues

If you’re itching to get back to your favorite sports stadium or concert venue since the outbreak of coronavirus, then these EagleHawk disinfectant drones might help.

The Buffalo, New York-based drone maker announced that it developed a process for disinfecting large areas against coronavirus using drones carrying disinfectant chemicals.

Their drones would theoretically be deployed over large public areas, like stadiums and arenas, which experts say will need to be disinfected on a regular basis not just because of potential regulations, but also for the public to feel comfortable attending events again.

And EagleHawk says their drones are best suited for the job.

“Common methods of disinfection, including using crews of people to clean and disinfect areas by hand, are time consuming and too costly to scale across large areas,” according to a memo from EagleHawk.

EagleHawk said their disinfectant chemicals are approved by the EPA and New York DEC for effectiveness against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

And EagleHawk builds custom drones specific to each type of venue  (e.g. sprayer configuration, application flow rate, etc.). EagleHawk CEO Patrick Walsh said customization is key “to ensure that we are optimizing disinfectant coverage for the conditions and ensuring the safety of our equipment and personnel.”

EagleHawk disinfectant drones
An EagleHawk drone being tested over the empty Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo, New York. Image courtesy EagleHawk.

Should drones be spraying coronavirus disinfectant chemicals?

The use of drones for spraying has been somewhat controversial.

“It appears there is little to no evidence that outdoor spraying of disinfectants or other substances (by hand or by drone) has any impact on reducing the transmission of the novel coronavirus,” drone non-profit advocacy group WeRobotics group said in a memo. “On the contrary, this fumigation could create public health problems and add to environmental pollution.”

Even DJI, which previously used its Agras drones —which are designed for agricultural spraying — to spray disinfectant over 3 million square meters in Shenzhen, home of the DJI headquarters, is saying to skip spraying drones completely.

“The widespread practice of spraying disinfectant and alcohol in the sky, on roads, vehicles, and personnel has no value,” the memo states. “Moreover, large quantities of alcohol and disinfectant are potentially harmful to humans and should be avoided.”

But EagleHawk CEO Patrick Walsh said that EagleHawk builds custom drones designed specifically to disinfect large-scale facilities, which he says avoids the problems that most arguments against drones for spraying incur.

“We believe much of this negative sentiment comes from the limitations and inappropriate use of off-the-shelf spraying systems,” he said.

Most others use-cases that have been criticized for their ineffectiveness use off-the-shelf spraying drones, which were designed for agricultural use (including the DJI example with the Agras drones).

“Unfortunately, we have seen a number of companies recently begin to market such drone-enabled disinfection services using these agriculture drones, promising results that they won’t be able to deliver,” Walsh said. “EagleHawk has spent months researching, designing, and testing our solutions to ensure we’re offering a safe and effective service for our clients.”

But with CDC guidance that hard outdoor surfaces frequently touched by multiple people and some outdoor facilities could benefit from disinfection, there could still be a place for EagleHawk disinfectant drones.

“The facilities we are developing disinfectant spraying solutions for, including football stadiums, baseball parks, and other similar large indoor and outdoor venues, are locations where people will be at a high risk of contact transmission,” Walsh said. “We believe (drones) will become a key enabler to the return of live sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings.”

EagleHawk disinfectant drones
EagleHawk performs a test run at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Image courtesy EagleHawk.

Prior to coronavirus, EagleHawk was building drones intended for governments and municipalities, public and private colleges and universities, medical institutions, large retail developments, and property management companies across the US.

But in March, EagleHawk changed their focus.

“It became clear that the threat of this novel virus was going to become a major disruption to our customers,” Walsh said. “We saw the disinfection service as a way to leverage our existing expertise in developing custom drone integrations to solve an emerging customer need. It seemed like a natural fit.”

Are you in favor of this use case? Would EagleHawk disinfectant drones be a helpful tool in making public places safer? Leave a comment below!

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