Wednesday, October 12, 2016

USAID Funding Drone Companies to Help Fight Zika Virus

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping to sponsor creative, novel ways to combat mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika. Two groups that are receiving funding are developing ways for drones to help access Zika-infected areas that are remote and difficult to reach.

WeRobotics will work with the United Nations to develop drones that can deliver sterile mosquitoes to mosquito hot zones. Vayu is developing drones that can deliver medical supplies or transport lab samples. These drones have the potential to increase speed and efficiency, by eliminating the need for humans to operate vehicles up treacherous mountain roads or navigate difficult terrain.

The USAID is also funding projects such as production of sandals treated with mosquito repellant, infecting mosquitoes with a bacteria called Wolbachia to make them sterile, and creating natural insecticides using soil bacteria.

These projects are all part of the USAID's Grand Challenge to Development initiative, to combat Zika virus. 30 million dollars was divided and given to 21 different projects, selected from nearly 900 proposals.

-Anne Sommer

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/zika-virus-outbreak/feds-fund-plans-take-zika-virus-drones-n665241

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