A collaboration between the Insect Pest Control Laboratory of the joint FAO/IAEA division and HEIGHT TECH, a German company specialising in robust and stable UAVs for civilian use, aims to use drones reach difficult terrains with the aim of extinguishing the threat carried by mosquitos.
In 2014 Bill Gates declared that the most dangerous animal in the world was not sharks, snakes or even humans, but the mosquito!
725,000 people are killed every year by the diseases carried by the female mosquito, such as malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever, elephantiasis and many others.
With conventional control methods losing effectiveness or not being applicable for new invasive species, new genetic control methods are being developed to combat disease-spreading mosquitoes.
Sterile male mosquitoes are produced in large numbers using innovative technology. They are released to find the wild female mosquitoes whom they mate with but produce no offspring, reducing the population in the next generation.
Specially developed unmanned aerial vehicles with enhanced payload capabilities and elongated flight times are being combined with release devices developed to automatically release male mosquitoes in positions and at rates guided by specialised GPS software. With a payload of half million chilled adult mosquitoes (500g) and a flight time of up to 30 minutes a square kilometre could be covered by these life-saving sterile males.
Coverage of a target area by drone release could be either homogeneous or carefully focussed on areas with the highest density of mosquitoes, no matter what the ground cover or available infrastructure. The cost-benefit improvement on current ground release techniques would be huge, and the regions which could now be treated with new genetic control techniques would be vastly increased, leading to an efficient method of fighting the world’s deadliest animal.