The Zika virus has reached the United States. After Texas, it's Florida's turn to be affected. To fight the mosquitoes, the main vectors of the disease, all means are good. Microsoft launches into the battle with drones carrying a mosquito trap. Name of the project: Premonition. Quite a program!
AMicrosoft's four-engine drones fly at low altitude, almost at ground level. The aircraft are equipped with special equipment, a real mosquito trap. Microsoft's research project, Premonitionwas launched to provide early detection of diseases spreading in the wild. To achieve this goal, Microsoft engineers have developed an trap capable of identifying species of mosquitoes and recording when one of these insects has been captured. When it is a species known to transmit Zika virus or another disease, an alert will be sent directly to the nearest health centres.
Ethan Jackson, the project manager at Microsoft explains that the device was originally designed for the Ebola epidemic in 2015. The researchers wanted to try to stop the emergence of infectious diseases that occurred quickly and without warning in certain regions.
Mosquito hunting is a complex exercise. There are indeed 3600 species of mosquitoes and only a handful can transmit Zika.
Project Premonition has therefore redesigned its trap to adapt it to the mosquitoes. It's an automated device made up of 64 intelligent cells, each of which analyzes the insects caught in the trap.
The movements of each trapped insect are scanned for Zika's potential carrier mosquito. To accurately identify a mosquito, the trapped insect receives infrared light. It is the way in which it reflects off the mosquito that enables its nature to be deduced. If the mosquito in question is not dangerous, it will be released automatically.
At the same time a considerable amount of environmental, thermal, location and movement data is recorded.
The trap can learn from its mistakes to become more effective, and is designed to operate for over 20 hours in hot and humid environments.