China is taking a very clever and practical approach to keep people off the streets, especially those not wearing a mask, as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread across the country and other parts of the globe.
The technique: deploy an army of drones on virus-hit streets to keep an eye on people who are not wearing masks and warn them to go home. Other remote-controlled flying robots have also been scattered to spray disinfectants on virus-stricken areas.
The drones have been outfitted with speakers to hound on people and deliver the scolding more effectively. Drones hovering above people in different parts of China's provinces broadcast messages in real-time by a human controller piloting the vehicle.
One of the busy drones hovering over an elderly woman -- who looks confused before scampering away -- blurted: "This is the drone speaking to you... we've been telling people to stay at home but you are still outside."
A female police officer is also seen in the video using a drone-mounted speaker to tell a group of women crossing the street: "Hey, pretty young ladies eating and walking! Put on your masks!"
The footage of drones monitoring and hovering on the rural areas and city streets was released by China's government-run media outlet Global Times.
Another footage released by the government shows the drones spraying disinfectant over cars and on road surfaces. It is thought that the drones were recorded ordering people around in Inner Mongolia, and disinfecting the coastal regions of Shandon, Jilin, and Zhejiany.
The drones are very straightforward and strict. In a tweet, the Global Times said that those wandering on the streets without a face mask "can't avoid these sharp-tongued drones."
The drone patrols come following the declaration of the World Health Organization of a global health crisis caused by the coronavirus, which has now killed more than 200 people and sickened close to 10,000.
US 'shoots down' drones
In other news, The United States Department of the Interior just approved a "no-fly order" to officially halt the operations of all its drones. The drones, most of them comprising the fleet's 800 or so units, are mostly made in China and have been ordered grounded because of cybersecurity fears.
The DOI is currently finalizing the documents that would formally cease the drone fleet's operations. Since the initial drone cessations disclosed in October, the DOI has only given the green light for 12 drone flights to cover disasters like floods and wildfires, a department representative said.
The decision to halt the operations of drones, especially those with Chinese parts or manufactured in China, was carried out following a thorough "review" of the DOI's drone program, sources said.