From the Microsoft blog:
It starts with a better mosquito trap.
Then come the more autonomous drones, the cutting-edge molecular biology and the advanced cloud-based data analysis.
And, finally, the big payoff: Project Premonition, a system that aims to detect infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread, with the goal of preventing major health disasters.
It may sound like the stuff of blockbuster movies, but Project Premonition aims to be fact, not fiction. Microsoft researchers are working with academic partners across multiple disciplines to develop the system, which collects and analyzes mosquitoes to look for early signs that potentially harmful diseases are spreading.
“We’re really pushing the envelope in many ways,” said Ethan Jackson, the Microsoft researcher who is spearheading the project.
For Project Premonition to work, Jackson’s team will rely on drones that can fly the mosquito traps into and out of remote areas in a semi-autonomous way, rather than having to be constantly directed from the ground.
Microsoft researchers are beginning to develop ways to make the drones more autonomous, and they also are working with Federal Aviation Administration officials on regulatory requirements.
Jeannette Wing, Microsoft’s corporate vice president overseeing the company’s core research labs, said the ability to make drones that can carefully navigate an environment on their own is key to another, broader goal of Project Premonition: Building safer cyber-physical systems.
A cyber-physical system is any computer-based system that interacts with the real world, including everything from implanted medical devices to drones to driverless cars. It’s much more complicated to safeguard a cyber-physical system than, say, a software program because there are other factors to think about beyond just code, like wind, temperature or pedestrians.
As people grow more dependent on these types of systems, and the Internet of Things evolves, Wing said computer scientists need to be thinking ahead about ways to ensure that they are safe before they are in wide use.
“The safety of all these cyber-physical systems is paramount,” she said. “We need to get ahead of the game.”
Read more about Project Premonition right here.
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