A fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that scatters swarms of sterile mosquitos is set to be deployed in a move designed to fight viruses such as malaria and the Zika virus.
Non-profit technology organisation WeRobotics has been developing drones to carry hundreds of thousands of infertile mosquitos, which will be transported and released in a bid to reduce mosquito reproduction and consequently the amount of disease-carrying insects, and will trial the idea in Latin America in 2018.
For the operation to be successful, the mosquitos that are being transported must be packed into an incubator and released across a wide area. Many areas where malaria and the Zika virus are prominent do not have a road network that would support motor operations.
The organisation, which announced its intentions to develop the technology in July last year, said: “The real technical challenge here, besides breeding millions of sterilized mosquitos, is actually not the flying robot (drone/UAV) but rather the engineering that needs to go into developing a release mechanism that attaches to the flying robot.
“In fact, we’re more interested in developing a release mechanism that will work with any number of flying robots, rather than having a mechanism work with one and only one drone/UAV. Aerial robotics is evolving quickly and it is inevitable that drones/UAVs available in 6-12 months will have greater range and payload capacity than today.”
The non-for-profit organisation has now unveiled images and videos that detail the UAV’s progression.
A video showing the UAV in action can be found below.