By Yu Jianbin, Yang Xin
Innovative technologies have played their roles in China’s fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is among them. After the outbreak of the epidemic, the system was immediately applied in epidemic prevention and control, serving as a pioneer in the battle.
When the country was racing against time to build Huoshenshan and Leishenshan makeshift hospitals, BDS equipment provided high-precision and efficient positioning and mapping services at the construction sites and therein helped speed up the construction.
After BDS technicians arrived at the construction site of Huoshenshan Hospital with BDS positioning equipment on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the survey of the site was smoothly completed. The terminal also enabled workers to finish setting out and linear works at one time, even in complicated environments, such as in the woods and among building complexes, which significantly reduced the construction period for the two hospitals.
The BDS-based unmanned devices contributed a major part to the reduction of human contacts amid epidemic. For example, delivery drones with load capacity ranging from 10 kilograms to 1.5 tons controlled under the BDS are able to drop emergency supplies in designated areas in a rapid and accurate manner.
The first BDS-based drone for operating in epidemic areas were sent to Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital, Hubei province midmorning of Feb. 12. It successfully delivered medical and protective supplies to the medical staff.
Shanghai-based Qianxun SI is a satellite location service provider that operates high-precision data for BDS. The company has established an online platform offering BDS-produced routes for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) across the country to join the fight against the epidemic. The platform enables drones to achieve centimeter-level accuracy on aerial disinfection and patrolling missions.
In Beijing and Hubei, agricultural drones have been widely used to disinfect virus-hit areas. A BDS-based drone can spray 5,000 square meters on a single flight and cover places beyond the reach of other disinfection vehicles.
In Ruichang, east China’s Jiangxi province, police officers are using BDS-based drones to patrol in densely populated areas to reduce congregation and remind people to protect themselves against the virus.
To ensure stable and accurate material supply, the transport routes must be smooth. Under the guidance of the BDS, vehicles could quickly deliver emergency medical and living materials from across the country to destinations through the most optimal routes.
Via the BDS terminals installed on vehicles under a national monitoring and service platform for cargo vehicles, over 6 million automobiles are receiving notifications on epidemic control, transportation of medical materials and road services sent by China’s Ministry of Transport.
Besides, the ministry is also recommending routes for the drivers and providing route history of the vehicles in the past 14 days. It sends information of vehicles passing the most-hit areas to industry authorities and provides data to guarantee the coordination of major commercial vehicles and the transportation of emergency materials.
Unmanned delivery vehicles operated under the BDS are also busy sending medical materials to hospitals, serving as a vital connection between hospitals in Wuhan and distribution stations.
At communities adopting closed-off management to curb the spread of the virus, the BDS terminals are contributing to the continuous supply of living materials. Delivering the commodities purchased by residents from online platforms, the terminals are powerfully securing the everyday needs of the people.
At present, hundreds of thousands of BDS terminals have been employed by the logistics industry to provide high-precision positioning services, guaranteeing the timely delivery of daily necessities to those in quarantine.
China plans to launch the last two batch of BDS-3 satellites in March and May and finish the construction of the system to provide global service.
In addition, with the launch of the operation control system and TT&C (telemetry, tracking, and control) system of the BeiDou satellites, ground work has been successfully completed. The ground-based augmentation system of the BDS, based on 2,600 stations across the country, will provide positioning services with a high stability, and achieve service availability up to 99.99%. It effectively guarantees the high-precision performance of the BDS in epidemic prevention and control.
An engineer is surveying at the construction site of the makeshift hospital Leishenshan in Wuhan with a BDS-based device. Photo from www.beidou.gov.cn/
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