The National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) has announced the development of uncrewed ground vehicle systems that can enter sewers and ditches to effectively control mosquitoes and prevent the transmission of diseases such as dengue fever. Dengue fever has been a significant concern in Taiwan, with over 8,000 reported cases this year. The disease is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes, making vector control crucial in preventing its spread.
Traditionally, governments have relied on manual patrols to search for mosquito larvae in sewers and ditches. This method is time-consuming, requires significant effort, and poses risks to the workers involved. Additionally, it can miss hidden breeding grounds. To address these challenges, the NHRI research team collaborated with the Kaohsiung Department of Health and an aerospace technology company to develop uncrewed ground vehicle systems capable of observing mosquito ecology in hard-to-reach areas.
The team conducted tests in one district of Kaohsiung from May to August 2018 and found mosquitoes in approximately 21 percent of the inspected ditches. To effectively control the mosquito population, they deployed another unmanned ground vehicle equipped with high-temperature water spray and insecticide spray. These measures resulted in a significant reduction in vector density from 0.62 to 0.19.
The results of the study have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The team is currently working on integrating the functions of the ground vehicles, such as improving the high-resolution digital camera and spraying system, to create a single vehicle capable of monitoring mosquitoes and implementing spraying controls more effectively and efficiently.
Unmanned ground vehicle systems have proven to be particularly useful in monitoring challenging areas, such as sewers and ditches, where access by humans is difficult. As technology continues to advance, these vehicles are becoming more versatile, with features such as waterproofing and additional functionalities. In addition to ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles are also being utilized to patrol gutters and water towers on the roofs of empty buildings. These drones can detect standing water and spray insecticide, reducing the need for manual patrol and disinfection efforts.
The development of these unmanned vehicle systems offers great potential for improving mosquito control measures and preventing the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. By utilizing technology, efforts can be more targeted and efficient, ultimately creating safer environments for communities.
Source: National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases