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The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused global disruption in a short period of time, prompting travel restrictions, school closures, and total lockdowns across Europe. Many industries are already feeling the impact, and with a vaccine still 12-18 months away, more businesses are likely to suffer.

Finding ways to mitigate losses will be the key differentiator for companies that are able to remain operational during these uncertain times. One mitigating factor that many businesses are considering is the use of autonomous technology, and more specifically, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

UAVs, or drones, are able to safely enter and collect data in environments or conditions that would be dangerous for humans. In a situation where businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, drones can help mitigate worker shortages and reduce exposure to COVID-19.

Myriad drone capabilities take on greater significance as we work to protect ourselves against the virus and slow the spread. Continue reading to learn how drones can help keep businesses running, and how the coronavirus outbreak is serving as a wake-up call for business continuity planning.

Drones in critical operations

Critical infrastructure and industrial sites worldwide rely on workforce availability. As more and more companies adopt measures for dealing with the outbreak, few are fully staffed. Planning and operations are seriously impeded when staffing is uncertain and unlikely to return to optimal levels for the foreseeable future.

Mining and energy companies are implementing continuity plans that could require special screening and quarantining of thousands of workers. Western Australia, for example, is estimated to employ 60,000 fly-in, fly-out workers who could be potential COVID-19 carriers to remote mining areas or oil and gas plants.

Large industrial sites require constant monitoring and maintenance. Regardless of market conditions, failing to conduct scheduled maintenance or monitor critical components can have costly — and fatal — consequences.

Drones provide an essential component to business contingency plans for critical operations and infrastructure. Whether workers are under quarantine, unable to travel, or subject to preemptive lockdowns, UAVs can conduct security and inspection missions — even in confined spaces or areas where GPS is unavailable.

Drones increase operational efficiencies and reduce costs even when the threat of a pandemic is not present. Using drones for consistent visual asset monitoring can reduce downtime, increase production, and improve preventive maintenance. Inspection missions that normally require multiple personnel and several hours of downtime to complete can often be completed with two workers and 1-2 hours when performed by a drone. Additionally, worker safety isn’t compromised when drones are used to enter confined or hazardous areas such as tanks or tunnels, and rescue teams are not required to be present.

The coronavirus outbreak is showing us that to adapt to changes in a global marketplace, companies must prepare for any situation, including those where the workforce is suddenly and severely restricted. Investing in autonomous technology now can help industrial companies and other businesses to keep critical projects operational when it matters most.

Aertos semi-autonomous drones

Digital Aerolus is an autonomous technology provider whose first product line — the Aertos semi-autonomous drones — is specifically focused on confined spaces and places where GPS is not available. Aertos drones have recently completed successful missions where conventional drones cannot fly, including in proximity to steel, metal, concrete, rock, and other materials that have historically prevented unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from operating.

Contact us to learn more or to schedule a no-obligation test inspection of your plant or facility using the Aertos 120 drones.