The military of Spain, one of the countries most badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak globally, is deploying agricultural drones, including a model by China’s biggest drone maker DJI, in its fight against Covid-19.

UME soldiers testing DJI Agras MG-1 drones in Madrid last week. (Picture: Handout)

DJI’s local agent in Spain, Stock RC, is assisting the Spanish Military Emergency Unit (UME) in the latter’s community disinfection operations, DJI wrote in a post on its official WeChat account on Tuesday.

“Spain has become the first European country to use agricultural drones for containing [pandemics],” the Shenzhen-based company added in the post.

DJI’s AGRAS MG-1 drone was one of two models the UME’s communications battalion successfully trialed for disinfecting large areas outdoors as well as inside big objects such as vehicles, according to a post on UME’s website last week. The other model was the DRONEHEXA XL by Spanish drone maker DroneTools.

DJI’s AGRAS MG-1 drone was one of two models the UME’s communications battalion successfully trialed for disinfecting operations last week. (Picture: Handout)

The use of DJI’s drones in the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic could help bolster the image of the Chinese drone company, which has seen its business threatened by concerns raised by the US over the collection and security of consumer data amid a tense US-China tech war.

The Trump administration, which has voiced concerns that DJI’s drones could be sending sensitive surveillance data back to China, has introduced more than 20 drone-related bills in recent months, many aimed at regulating or restricting Chinese-made machines and building up US competitors.

DJI’s drones – which account for 75% of the global market – have been banned by the US military since 2017 and the US Interior Department more recently grounded its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones for all but emergency purposes.

But in the face of a severe public health crisis, drones have proven valuable with their ability to enter badly affected areas and automatically spray disinfectant, reducing the risk of emergency personnel being infected by the pathogen.

Aside from Spain and China – where drones have been used extensively during the pandemic to spray disinfectant, check temperatures and disperse public gatherings – DJI drones have been used to combat the virus in countries including Chile, Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, DJI’s main rival, Chinese agricultural drone maker XAG, was also identified in a university research study as one of the most suitable drone suppliers to carry out community disinfection operations in the UK.