Is there anything worse than mosquitoes? Yes. Lots of things. But mosquitoes are pretty bad. Besides being buzzy and itchy and annoying, they can transmit nasty diseases including malaria and West Nile virus, even in civilized (mostly) places like Florida. The issue with mosquitoes is that they're everywhere, and if you've ever tried to get rid of even one mosquito, you can imagine how hard mass eradication is. In Florida, they're about to experiment with aerial drones to see if they can help.
The secret to mosquito eradication seems to be to tackle them in the larval stage when they live in warm shallow pools of water. With chemicals (or hungry fish), you can get rid of the larvae before they take flight. The issue in places like Florida is that warm and shallow pools of water are absolutely everywhere, and finding them all becomes a real problem. Later this month, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District will use a Maveric drone from Condor Aerial equipped with a shortwave infrared camera to see if it's possible to detect pools of water likely to contain mosquito larvae. Once the pools are found, figuratively nuking them is relatively straightforward. Here's some video of the Maveric in action; it's primarily designed for military and law enforcement, but it's exciting to see it starting to drift into civilian and commercial applications:
It's easy to imagine that at some point (some point soon), drones will be able to take over both the searching and the destroying all on their own. One option would be to use a larger drone equipped with a spraying system (which would likely still be cheaper than a manned helicopter), but if it's possible to package larvicide (fish) as a droppable payload, you could just have to drone fly around and bomb water pools it finds directly. UAV bombing a feasible enough thing to do that it was part of SparkFun's autonomous vehicle competition this year.
If you really want to get serious about mosquito destruction, though, there's only one way to do it, and that's by equipping these drones with frikkin' lasers:
Via [ KeysNet ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.