Over the weekend, Indian authorities used drones and fire engines to disinfect the pandemic-hit city of Ahmedabad as the number of new cases surged and police clashed with migrant workers during the final days of a strict lockdown.
India has been living under one of the world's most restrictive lockdowns since March 25. As the country gradually tries to reopen some areas, restrictions were actually tightened in Ahmedabad on Friday because of the accelerated spread of the virus. Across India, the number of confirmed cases is rapidly closing in on 70k.
Ahmedabad accounts for roughly 10% of those, as well as ~343 of the almost 2,000 deaths reported nationwide. It's also not the only city in Gujarat to be badly hit by the virus.
According to AFP, locals watched in awe from their balconies as drones sprayed disinfectant from the air while fire engines and other vehicles toured the empty streets, sending streams of cleaning agent in every direction.
Acting Chief administrator Rajiv Gupta said "all zones" of the city would be disinfected. The process unfolded as hundreds of paramilitary members flooded the city on Friday as the number of infections soared. Their mission was to kept people off the streets and virtually all stores have been closed for at least a week.
However, the addition of the paramilitaries turned the situation into a powder keg. It was set off when a crowd confronted the soldiers and started pelting them with stones. Police and paramilitary members responded by flinging tear gas. Ultimately 15 were arrested.
Then onn Saturday, fresh clashes erupted in the textile center of Surat, considered Gujarat’s industrial core, when about 500 migrant workers, demanding to return home, hurled stones at the police. Surat has reported about 900 cases of COVID-19, making it the second hardest-hit city in the state. Surat, known for its diamond and textile industries, is home to over 800,000 migrant workers. The Indian lockdown has left migrants largely to fend for themselves as they have been effectively trapped in India with no resources. Many are demanding they be allowed to return home.
Of course, India isn't alone in using robots and drones to fight - or try to fight - the virus.
Robots patrol parks in Singapore...
....and here's another nightmarish creation that is being used in Singapore as the outbreak among migrant workers in that country explodes.
And in Connecticut's wealthy Fairfield County, the town of Westport is planning to use drones to check temperatures and perform other symptom checks.