Drones play part as space projects receive £3.4m cash boost


The UK Space Agency has confirmed £3.4m worth of new funding for 10 leading-edge projects that back UK academics using space to tackle global development problems.

A drone program will form part of the DETECT project to help prevent deadly mosquito diseases from spreading.

In 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths from malaria alone.

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Using satellite, air-borne and ground-based sensing technology, academics at The Open University will detect where mosquitoes are most likely to breed and support efforts to tackle this deadly disease at its source.

Once identified, ‘sprayer drones’ will release biocontrol agents that will kill mosquito larvae without affecting other species as part of the DETECT project.

Commenting on the move, science minister Amanda Solloway said: “From flooding to climate change, around the world people continue to be affected by crises that are having a profound impact on their countries’ economies and their lives.

“These 10 new projects have the potential to provide solutions to the world’s biggest development problems by using the latest and most high-tech space technologies such as satellites, and help improve millions of people’s lives in developing countries.”

The £3.4 million funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), which is designed to use UK space expertise in satellite technology and data services to deliver ground-breaking solutions to real-world problems across the globe.

Projects aim to help developing countries while building effective partnerships that can lead to growth opportunities for the UK space sector.

Looking at the DETECT programme specifically, through a satellite, the system will then dispatch ‘sprayer drones’ to these high-risk areas to release biocontrol agents – killing mosquito larvae without affecting other species.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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