The use of drones for research purposes is increasing rapidly with time due to their ability to collect large chunks of data at a relatively short period, with limited human supervision needed. But their use in epidemics prevention and research has largely been in the backdrop. But now Microsoft is aiming to build a big drone network that can help detect and prevent deadly diseases like dengue and malaria that take hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
These diseases spread from one place to another by different means. Some use their hosts as a transmitter of the virus while others breed and transmit it. A single mosquito has so many pathogens that it can be deadly. What we have to do is that we have to capture and study mosquitoes from areas vulnerable and then use this data for risk analysis and epidemic research. But the primary difficulty is that we have to catch mosquitoes from a wide range of area in a short amount of time.
Despite the advancement of science on many fronts, scientists still use booby-traps for catching the winged insects and then they have to be collected by hand. Wth this project premonition, much of the mosquito gathering and other data can be done by the drones themselves. The use of drones is also much cheaper and faster as individually going to each area and collecting samples is a very consuming job. Drones speed it up and bring an even larger pool of data in the form of trapped mosquitoes back to the research centers.
The mosquitoes are then tested for pathogens. If the concentration of known germs is found to be at alarming levels, local authorities and be mobilized, and the spread of the disease can be controlled. If they find a whole new virus that has previously been uncategorized, again the authorities are alerted, and further work on the development of a vaccine is started immediately. It could prevent a much bigger disaster in the area.
Project premonition can not only be used for mosquito-carried diseases but other general epidemics as well like bird flu and even Ebola. They can go and collect samples from areas where no human contact with the population is possible. In the future, we will see many added features of the project premonition including medicine administration as well. For now, the project is slated to be completed in the next five years.
Have a look the video of this great humanitarian effort in the making: