A video has surfaced apparently showing a drone with a loudspeaker telling New Yorkers to maintain social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
The clip (below), which was reportedly recorded at a Manhattan park on Saturday, was posted online by CBS News.
While officials in some countries have authorized the use of so-called speaker-drones as part of measures to enforce lockdowns, drones have not been deployed in the U.S. for the same purpose.
“This is the anti-COVID-19 volunteer drone task force,” a voice, supposedly from the drone, bellows out.
It continues: “Please maintain a social distance of at least six feet. Again, please maintain social distancing. Please help stop the spread of this virus. Reduce the death toll and save lives. For our own safety and our family’s safety, please maintain social distancing. Thank you for your co-operation. We are all in this together.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 5, 2020
Under the rules of New York State’s lockdown, people have been told to only go out for essential business and exercise, and to keep six feet apart when they do so. But the New York Police Department told The Hill that it has nothing to do with the drone. The Federal Aviation Administration, which controls the air space over the U.S., said it plans to investigate the suspicious flight to confirm whether the operator was violating aviation regulations.
Police in France and Spain have been using speaker-drones to tell residents in the two locked-down countries to return home if they’re suspected of being outside without good reason. China has been using the technology for similar purposes in recent months, while British cops used the flying machine to create a video that effectively shamed folks for being outdoors in apparent violation of stay-at-home rules.
There appears to be no plan to use the flying machines in the same way in the U.S. Indeed, many of the drones used by the authorities in the U.S. have been grounded for months due to concerns that the mostly Chinese-made machines could be used for spying.
On a lighter note regarding the use of technology to tackle the virus, a Dalek was recently spotted trundling along a street in the U.K. (on the left side of the road, of course), ordering people to stay indoors.
“By order of the Daleks, all humans must stay indoors, all humans must self-isolate,” the Doctor Who villain blurted as it rolled along the quiet street. It’s not clear who was behind the prank.
Things are getting pretty serious. pic.twitter.com/OLc6egO9V5
— Ben (@Jamin2g) April 3, 2020