Civilian purposes for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), frequently called drones, include firefighting, parcel delivery, and farming, where they enable the monitoring of vegetation, crop growth, and weed distribution. Compared to agriculture, the application of drones in ecological research has not been explored as fully. In an opinion piece published in Trends in Parasitology, a group of scientists demonstrate how they are employing drones to understand the environmental factors influencing the spread of infectious diseases.
Because they possess the ability to collect detailed information at relatively low cost, drones have been used for monitoring environmental situations too dangerous for traditional aerial surveillance, including mapping ice floes in the Arctic or conducting anti-poaching patrols in Africa. However, what about other areas of science — how might the use of drones enhance infectious disease epidemiology? Dr. Kimberly Fornace, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and her colleagues say their new study of a strain of malaria that is carried by monkeys and can infect humans proves the utility of drones in helping researchers understand ecological patterns underlying the spread of pathogens.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com