Microsoft, founded by a man who is not a fan of mosquitoes, wants to develop drones to detect and catch mosquitoes. Researchers on the ominously named Project Premonition will then take blood samples from the mosquitoes to determine if they are carrying diseases from animals they’ve bitten, or any diseases they’re carrying themselves.
The idea is that by knowing what sorts of diseases are circulating in the wild, scientists will be better able to mitigate the potential for outbreaks and epidemics. Right now, it’s difficult to manually get this sort of data from animals that live in inhospitable areas—drones could change that.
The team went to Granada in March to see if they could use a drone to capture and transport mosquitoes—the team says it hopes to have a drone that it has been taught to do this work on its own in five years. Microsoft told Quartz that it won’t be building its own drones, but will modify consumer drones to run autonomously.
James Pipas, a professor from the University of Pittsburgh working on the project, said in the announcement video that if the team can get these drones working on their own, they would like to create “a global system… that detects new infectious agents and monitors their movements as they emerge.”