- Rome’s health officials to deploy flying drones at Roman beaches.
- Flying drones to remotely check beachgoers’ temperature in Italy.
- Drones will be used to track COVID-19 and prevent health emergencies.
Local health officials in Rome, Italy are deploying a drone to fly around Ostia beaches near Rome, and automatically check the temperature of all beachgoers, in order to detect people with potential COVID-19 infection.
The ‘medical’ drone was scheduled to patrol the beaches of Ostia, a suburb of Rome, this weekend, but the experiment was delayed due to a bad weather forecast for this Saturday and Sunday.
According to Italian health officials, the drone would “automatically” measure temperatures while hovering at least 25m above the water and staying at least 30m away from people. Test flights were planned to last for five hours, between 11am and 4pm.
“When the drone detects a person with a fever, it identifies them and alerts the medical surveillance team,” the officials said. “Doctors then arrive at the site for investigation, which can lead to a COVID-19 test.”
Officials promised to respect privacy, saying that holidaymakers with normal temperatures will not be identified.
Marta Branca, the head of ASL Roma 3, a public health authority that covers several districts of Italy’s capital, denied rumors that the flying device will be used to hunt down people who spread the disease.
“It’s just a way to make sure that an illness or an accident on the beach or at sea is detected immediately and not a single moment is lost in the rescue efforts,” Branca tweeted. “My father had died like that. Maybe, with that drone he would still be here.”
At the same time, Branca acknowledged some lapses in communication about the initiative, promising to avoid misunderstandings in the future.