Varanasi Smart City deploys drones to sanitize sensitive areas

Varanasi Smart City has engaged Garuda Aerospace, a Chennai based company for spraying of sanitizer in the selected areas of Varanasi City under Smart Cities Mission.

Spraying of sanitizer through drones is prioritized for hotspots and containment areas are identified by the district administration/chief medical officer. This is followed by isolation areas, quarantined areas, shelter homes and other places where manual spraying is difficult.

The drone team first visits the area planned to be sanitized for the day and makes a quick visual survey of the terrain, buildings and surroundings and chalks out a flight path to be followed by the drone. The drone is then filled with the chemical solution consisting of 1% Sodium Hypochlorite, the drone is then calibrated and set ready to fly. Drones are then flown using a remote-control device by the experienced drone pilots in the planned flight path, simultaneously spraying the sanitizer through its four nozzles.

After every flight, the drones are called back for refilling the chemical and replacing the battery pack. The drones are then moved to the next location to resume the flying/spraying.

The flight path of the drones and the area covered are controlled and recorded in a hand held device with GIS maps on the backend which is plugged to the remote controller.

The vehicles used for drone operations are fitted with GPS and GSM based wireless cameras using which the entire movement of drones and their operations are centrally monitored from the Kashi Integrated Command and Control Centre, now converted to COVID-19 war room. The sanitary inspector and other team members’ report to the nodal officer before and after drone operations are carried out at each designated location.

The capital costs of the equipment are provided by the agency concerned whereas city administration had to incur expenditure on operational expenses (service costs and chemical costs). The average cost of operations range from Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 12,000 per day per drone and is dependent on area covered in acres.

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