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Microsoft building an army of drones to stop mosquito epidemics


There are many uses for drones; with one of the most popular being recording videos, but Microsoft has other ideas for their army of drones that will go by the name of Project Premonition. They plan on using the drones to be able to detect viruses and stop them from potentially infecting a large amount of people.


[Image Courtesy of ScienceAlert]

Drone technology could save many lives in many remote regions where malaria and dengue fever run riot. One of the keys to saving lives is being able to catch the mosquitoes and then study the disease they carry. A single mosquito can often be one of the most dangerous of all animals as it has so many pathogens.

Scientists have been looking for a low cost way of being able to catch and study mosquitoes as right now the only way of doing it is to use traps and suspend them in trees. However, the downside to this is that they have to be collected by hand. If the new project of Microsoft goes to plan the process could be speeded up a great deal and of course using drones would make it easier and cheaper. Drones could be sent out and they would cover a large distance while at the same time coming back with samples that are larger than what the scientists get at present.

Along with being able to monitor the spread of known diseases, new ones could be found and this could stop epidemics from spreading. Scientists are working on developing software to process genetic data more accurately using their UAV mosquito hunting fleet of drones. This would allow scientists to gain a better understanding of viruses along with how those viruses are spread.

In March a feasibility study was undertaken by Microsoft in the Caribbean and findings were then revealed. Microsoft is working alongside academic partners so that Project Premonition can become reality, hopefully within the next five years.

Advanced warnings of an epidemic is critical as clinics could be up and running a lot earlier and vaccines could be made ready, along with travelling restrictions being put in place and stop any situation from becoming worse. Of course if the drones are to have success they would have to be able to work on their own so that they can navigate environments and cover more land. The team behind the drones are optimistic and they are hoping to be able to attach the mosquito traps to the drones.

Via [ScienceAlert]

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