COVID-19 Decontamination of Delivery Drone Aircraft Used in Remote and Rural Locations

Laliberté, Jeremy | $50,000

Ontario Carleton University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant


In this proposed project, we will work with two Canadian SMEs who are developing large capacity delivery drones – Romaeris Corporation and Sky Canoe – to develop strategies to rapidly decontaminate large delivery drone aircraft that have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and other pathogens. Although these two companies are potential competitors, they have agreed to this unique pre-competitive partnership proposed by Carleton for the greater good of addressing this threat to public health.

The remotely piloted aircraft systems (i.e. « drone ») from these two companies both have large (>250 kg) cargo capacity and are planned to be used for delivery to remote and rural locations including isolated Indigenous communities and locations in Africa. These communities may be most vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus and other pathogens. At the same time, these communities require an unbroken supply chain to maintain the flow of required goods such as medicines and perishable food. Given the planned high operational tempo of supply flights and the rapid turn-around time on the ground, there are many surfaces on the aircraft that will be touched by personnel at the departure and arrival locations within short intervals of only a few hours. It is also known that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may survive on surfaces such as metal and plastic for several days – although the infectivity of such residual viral particles remains unknown.

In this project, we will examine industry-accepted decontamination strategies used in the traditional manned aviation industry and assess their applicability, operational impact and potential to degrade the airworthiness of the two companies’ drones. The short term goal is to develop an acceptable decontamination process for these aircraft for immediate deployment while identifying long term design modifications and improvements to simplify decontamination of future delivery drone aircraft of all types.

Avec un financement du Gouvernement du Canada

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