How Drones Are Being Used To Track Malaria

America’s got pretty good at using drones to hunt and kill big tangible things, but Hellfire missiles and Reapers aren’t all that good at tracking little insects. But that hasn’t stopped researchers from using (smaller, less deadly) drones to help fight the spread of infectious disease.

Live Science has a great write-up on the work of Chris Drakeley and fellow professors from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who have been using a small fixed-wing drone to track the spread of a particular malaria parasite in macaque monkeys and humans. Basically, the drones enable the researchers to map land use, which, when combined with GPS tracking of humans and monkeys, helps them to map the spread of disease.

It’s yet another example of how cheap(ish) technology — in this case small R/C aircraft and GPS trackers — can be used in unexpected ways, and combined together do pretty neat things that would have previously required the use of satellites (or years of cheap grad student labour). The full article is definitely worth a read. [Live Science]