Fascinating project and write up from Motherboard:
The radiated flies will be loaded into boxes enclosed within long chambers that sit below the drone’s wings, explains Javier Espuch, one member of the five-strong team who developed the drone. Flying autonomously, the machine follows pre-set coordinates that pinpoint areas known to be infested with the insects: “When the drone reaches that area it automatically drops the flies,” says Espuch. The biodegradable, open-sided boxes free the insects as they fall.
Boxes can be released from the wing pod at pre-arranged intervals, to control and maximise the spread of radiated insects according to each location. “Release rates can be adjusted for conditions in specific areas, something that is useful in areas with complicated topography,” said Rafael Argiles-Herrero, an entomologist at the IAEA. By repeatedly dropping non-breeders into the midst of wild swarms, the drone will gradually weaken localised populations of tsetse flies.
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