Eliminating malaria with spray drones

Mosquito larva in water

Chinese technology company DJI is collaborating with a malaria task force on an innovative technique to eliminate the disease.

DJI is a leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology and has pooled its expertise with a team of entomologists in the field of malaria elimination, leading to an exciting breakthrough.

In a pilot project, the use of spray drones targeting mosquito-infested rice fields was explored. This took place in Zanzibar, Africa, using a modified DJI MG1-S Agras drone which sprayed mosquito-infested rice fields with Aquatain AMF, a unique non-toxic and biodegradable silicone-based liquid. By spreading the liquid across stagnant water, a thin film was created, which prevented pupae and larvae from breathing at the surface, causing them to drown.

Reducing the cases of new malaria infections will not only put an end to all the suffering of people, but it will also contribute to generate larger harvests, and provide new economic perspectives in Africa

“We are proud to be pioneers in this field along with scientific experts using our spray drones against malaria in Africa, and we have great hopes that this approach will significantly contribute towards defeating this fatal disease in affected regions around the world,” said Dr Barbara Stelzner, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communication at DJI Europe. “Reducing the cases of new malaria infections will not only put an end to all the suffering of people, but it will also contribute to generate larger harvests, and provide new economic perspectives in Africa.”

The scientist behind the project, Dr Bart Knols, also commented on the findings: “The use of spray drones proves to be essential in efficiently treating large rice fields, because spraying by hand is very time consuming and using a helicopter is too expensive and simply not realistic.”

The scientists will continue spraying and will sample the larvae and emerging mosquito population before, during and after spraying to determine the possible impact of this approach in large rice irrigation schemes that are found throughout Africa.

Professor Wolfgang Richard Mukabana from the University of Nairobi said that the project is the first to attempt to fight malaria with spray drones on such a large scale and that he hopes the spray drone technology will prove useful in eradicating the disease.