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Taiwan Deploys Robotic Vehicles To Help Tackle Mosquitoes

The unmanned ground vehicle systems have been used to monitor sewers for Aedes mosquitoes and carry out eradication tasks.

In an effort to slow down the spread of the dengue disease, researchers at Kaohsiung city, Taiwan, have used robotic vehicles to identify and eliminate the breeding sources of Aedes mosquitoes – with great results. 

The study was carried out by a team at the Taiwan National Mosquito-Borne Diseases Control Research Center.

Artist rendering of experimental setups

Artists rendering of experimental setups / Liu et al., 2023, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, CC-BY 4.0

Dengue fever is an infectious disease caused by the dengue virus and spread by several mosquito species in the genus Aedes, which also spread chikungunya, yellow fever and zika.

Due to Taiwan’s rapid urbanisation process, its city sewers have become breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes, risking the spread of the disease. Although the country has been working to get rid of these mosquitoes, current monitoring programs struggle to monitor and analyse the density of the species in these hidden areas.

In order to reduce the spread of dengue, researchers combined a crawling robot, wire-controlled cable car and real-time monitoring system into an unmanned ground vehicle system (UGV) that can take high-resolution, real-time images of areas within sewers.

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The system was deployed in five administrative districts in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan, between May and August 2018. 

Prevention and control actions of Kaohsiung city’s epidemic prevention personnel after UGV inspection of ditches.

Prevention and control actions of Kaohsiung city’s epidemic prevention personnel after UGV inspection of ditches. / Liu et al., 2023, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, CC-BY 4.0

The results showed that the UGV were able to find traces of Aedes mosquitoes in 20.7 per cent of inspected sewers, in stages from larvae to adult.

In positive sewers, additional prevention control measures were carried out, using either insecticides or high-temperature water jets.  Immediately after these interventions, the gravitrap index (GI) – a measure of the adult mosquito density nearby – dropped significantly from 0.62 to 0.19.

“The widespread use of UGVs can potentially eliminate some of the breeding sources of vector mosquitoes, thereby reducing the annual prevalence of dengue fever in Kaohsiung city,” the team said. 

 

Source: E&T

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