Autonomous vehicles, robotic cleaners, smart city and data analytic technology can be used to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and also help to provide the knowledge needed for people to feel safe when they get back to work.
As people begin to move through hospitals, airports, car parks, factories and beaches, innovative companies are helping to alleviate potential problems.
ADASKY, an Israel-based start-up, adapted its automotive-grade intelligent thermal camera, designed to detect pedestrians, animals, objects, and road conditions in all kinds of weather, to scan people for fever.
ADASKY’s Viper-R Long Wave Infrared camera is approximately the size of an average thumb. It can safely measure body temperatures in real-time from distances of up to 10 metres (33 ft).
A camera is placed before or just inside entrances of high traffic places such as stores, factories or hospitals. The system is currently being tested in Israeli hospitals. “We are extremely proud of our team for developing this solution so quickly to address urgent needs and the requests for the technology are overwhelming,” says Yakov Sharabani, ADASKY’s CEO. “We are working tirelessly to fulfil the demand.”
Downtown.AI uses anonymized mobile data and advanced machine learning analytics to show the density of locations to help municipalities and authorities.
“We are detecting people movement in all forms mobility walking, cars, boats, public transport and boats,” says Yaron Bazaz, Founder and CEO, Downtown.AI. It offers a control center and platform to show the people moving on the map and to see if street and localities, such as if beaches or parks, are busy and should be closed.
“Authorities, cities, counties and states can see how their exit strategies are working and or what should be done,” says Bazaz. Downtown.AI is also able to compare traffic to historical data and integrate it with municipal data as well as show origin and destination. “Downtown.AI SaaS platform is a tool at an operational level to determine what to do,” says Bazaz. Because the data is real-time it can also help plan and manage evacuations and other people movement during an emergency or disaster.
Long queues have become commonplace since the Covid-19 pandemic. LiDAR, which most people associate with autonomous vehicles, can also be a valuable tool estimating times spent in lines and to monitor social distancing.
“iinside has been using Quanergy LiDAR for the past few years in airports at TSA security checkpoints with geofencing to determine how long the wait will be to get through,” says Steve Moody, VP of Sales, at iinside.
“LiDAR is excellent at detecting movement, many airports have adapted to iinside technology to show wait times on airport monitors and send push notifications for mobile apps so that travellers will know how long they will be for the security check-in. Airport management has used the data to determine which places and what times of day could be bottlenecks.”
The company adapted its software to be able to determine the social distancing between people in a line/queue.
“This will enable the airports to know how to set up their scansions(ropes) and could be used to also give travellers ideas of the different lines and the social distancing all the time in the line,” adds Moody.
Recently, iinside produced a proof of concept for the social distancing technology that would also work for other parts of the airport such as baggage claim, gate rooms, kiosk sand food court. The iinside SafeDistance platform can also be adopted in other places where there are large amounts of people such as stadiums, concert venues and shopping malls.
It is currently working with the airport management to see how the information will be delivered to the airport to travellers. For instance, if a line gets too many people in it who are not social distancing a text message may be sent to security.
“People at airports love that they can see how long it will take them to get through the security. The social distancing aspect will be a way for airports to allow travellers to know that they are safe,” says Moody.
Travellers may be informed of social distancing on screens with red, yellow and green lights or text/push notifications.
Travellers will obviously feel a lot safer when they know the airport has been disinfected. Pittsburgh International Airport recently announced it is deploying robotic floor scrubbers with UV-C light to sanitize the facility.
Carnegie Robotics supplied the AI to enable Nilfisk scrubbers to disinfect without an operator. The scrubbers use water pressure, UV-C light and disinfectant for three levels of cleaning.
“UV-C light has been used to disinfect hospitals and definitely makes sense for an airport,” says Katherine Karolick, senior vice president of Information Technology for Pittsburgh International Airport.
“Passengers want to know an airport is clean and safe. Pittsburgh is the centre for robotics and artificial intelligence; any time we can tap into the talent of the region it’s a win.”
The airport was partnering with Carnegie Robotics for a year and, when the pandemic hit, it added the UV-C light for a deeper clean, says Karolick.
Quanergy LiDAR that was being used to detect pedestrians at traffic lights for smart cities has expanded its use into monitoring social distancing, explains Enzo Signore, Chief Marketing Officer, Quanergy Systems Inc.
Many ways of monitoring workers invade their privacy. Security cameras are not accurate and can have many false alarms. Surveillance cameras cover small areas and are expensive to install. Quanergy’s Flow Management Platform anonymously tracks people movement and measures the distance between them. The Quanergy M8 LiDAR, that is about the size of soup can, scans a 360 degrees field of view totalling 8,000 square metres.
An added benefit is that Quanergy works with major security camera systems that can zoom if needed before creating an alert to summon a guard.
Signore imagines that Quanergy’s Flow Management Platform would be helpful to monitor social distancing in locations such as sports arenas, distribution centres, warehouses and automotive manufacturing facilities.
Other ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are through automation and robotics.
“It is clear that the world needs more advanced solutions for warehouse automation and last-mile robotics to protect workers,” says Shauna McIntyre, CEO of Sense Photonics, who notes autonomous last-mile delivery and warehouse robotics require high-quality, data-rich 3D perception to be effective.
McIntyre adds: “We are working with industrial automation leaders to apply our proprietary 3D sensing technology to accelerate the delivery of these much-needed products.”
Sense Photonics will be announcing a partnership with a major logistics provider, in the coming months.
Another problem with getting back to work could be exposing drivers to parking attendants and other possibly contaminated elements. Parking in the future will not only be self-service but contactless.
“I see a trend towards car commuting instead of public transportation and other mobility alternatives as the potential spread of the virus will be on the top of everyone’s minds,” says Jerry Skillett, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of SPACES, provider of a technology suite allows users to wirelessly, enter, exit and pay for parking through a smartphone application.
He says the acceleration of contactless payment for parking will be at a tipping point. It is just not publicly acceptable to force the public to touch equipment, screens, or anything else that could be contaminated to pay for parking.