FEU alumni, students produce AI-assisted thermal scanner drones

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2020 07:01 PM

MANILA - A group of students and alumni from the Far Eastern University - Institute of Technology are completing and testing six initial units of “artificial intelligence-assisted thermal scanner drones” which will help authorities detect people with COVID-19 symptoms in mere seconds.
FEU alumnus Samantha Monique Bautista, lead engineer of Dwarm Technologies, said the drones can be set up in any checkpoint and detect the body temperature of around 10 people at the same time.

An individual with a body temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher will immediately signal an alert to the equipment, giving authorities the chance to quickly identify the person and isolate him or her from the others.

Bautista said the equipment will lessen frontliners’ physical contact with people when they perform thermal scanning.

“Ang haba po kasi madalas sa checkpoint at exposed po 'yung ating uniformed personnel sa mga checkpoints. So meron po silang risk na ma-infect ng possible carriers,” she explained.

(Lines at checkpoints are long and our uniformed personnel our exposed. They risk being infected from possible carriers.)

Results of thermal scanning only take “2 to 3 seconds,” she added.

The other members of the group are Angelito Espiritu and students Kent Laurence Rivera, Khay Esguerra and Maria Regiena Alejo. Rolan Marco Garcia, director of the institute’s innovation and entrepreneurship, serves at the program adviser.

The initial six AI-assisted thermal scanners may soon be set up in areas like the SLEX and NLEX, said Alejo.

“Sa mga major checkpoints po kung saan po talaga maraming tao na katulad po ng pinag-testing-an namin sa may Caloocan. Kasi po yung mga tao po dun labas-masok both from QC (Quezon City) and Caloocan,” she says. 

(They can be deployed to major checkpoints where numerous people pass by, like the one in Caloocan where we tested our drones. Because that's where people move to and from Caloocan and Quezon City.)

The units will be given for free as their way of supporting the nation’s fight against the virus, the FEU volunteers said.

They are only waiting for additional parts before delivering their units to intended recipients “within the month.” 

The group is eyeing to produce more scanner drones to assist other agencies and local government units, in the next two weeks. 

The project is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCEIRD), Garcia said.

The drones, according to the group, are actually improved and modified versions of tools used by rescue teams in detecting survivors trapped in disaster-hit areas.

The FEU Institute of Technology, with its present students and alumni, is also working on 20 other new technologies and equipment to aid the country in its fight against COVID-19.

“If we need more units, the FEU group of schools will be investing in their start-up to produce more units. I think DOST has already deployed their funds for COVID and I think they are looking at more investments, grants for COVID-response technologies. This is I think the very first grant that they did especially for COVID,” Garcia said.