To prevent epidemics, American tech compnay Microsoft is developing autonomous drones that collect mosquitoes to look for early signs of potentially harmful viruses being spread by them, report the Times of India.
Project Premonition is developing a system that aims to detect infectious disease outbreaks like dengue fever or avian flu, before they become widespread.
It will do that by relying on what Ethan Jackson, the Microsoft researcher who is spearheading the project, calls 'nature's drones' — mosquitoes — to look for early signs that a particular illness could be on the move.
Researchers have developed a new mosquito trap that uses less energy and relies on lighter weight batteries. It also has a new bait system for luring mosquitoes, a sensor that automatically sorts the mosquitoes from the other bugs and chemicals that can preserve the mosquitoes for lab study.
It is expected to be significantly cheaper and lighter than current traps. The team will use drones that can fly the mosquito traps into and out of remote areas in a semi-autonomous way, rather than having to be constantly directed from the ground.
Experts are beginning to develop ways to make the drones even more autonomous, and they are also working with US Federal Aviation Administration officials on regulatory requirements, according to a company blog post. Once the mosquitoes have been collected, the next challenge is to analyse them for viruses that could pose a threat to humans.