Coronavirus News: Disinfecting drones launching to fight COVID-19

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Drones are being used in a variety of ways during the coronavirus pandemic, including to help monitor crowds from up above and to ensure people are social distancing.

Now, one company is using the technology to help reopen businesses and bring people back together again.

EagleHawk developed a new drone to help reopen large spaces. The drone doesn't take pictures or videos like you might expect. It does only one thing -- it cleans.

"The beauty of the drone is it's very efficient, and you can cover a large amount of ground quickly," EagleHawk CEO Patrick Walsh said.

The Buffalo-based company has been working with drones for the past few years to inspect large buildings and stadiums and help identify leaks and cracks in the structures. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they modified the drones to disinfect large spaces.

It's a way to clean large areas in a fraction of the time, while keeping workers away from germs and away from the chemicals.

"It would take a crew of 30 to 40 people an entire shift to disinfect and clean down every seat," Walsh said. "Whereas using the drones, it's much more efficient."

The company has tested the technology out on a half dozen stadiums already in upstate New York, and it could be used in New York City and New Jersey by this summer.

"These facilities are going to need to clean and disinfect more often," Walsh said.

The drone has a sensor that allows the operator to fly it around tight indoor and outdoor space to spray the cleaning fluid.

"The future is now, the technology is now," COO Will Schulmeister said.

The company is certified to fly drones with the FAA, and now it's working a special spraying certification. It's also working the EPA to figure out which cleaning chemicals to use that are federally approve and safe but are also strong enough to kill COVID-19.

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