The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is considering using a drone to spot shallow-water pools where mosquitoes breed along the Keys. The 2.2-pound, 2.5-foot-long drone would use infrared cameras to locate the shallow pools and allow the district rapidly to treat those areas with larvicide.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is considering using a drone to spot shallow-water pools where mosquitoes breed along the Keys. District director Michael Doyle has invited several government agencies to a scheduled test flight for the drone at the FKMCD Stock Island, Key West office on 26 August.
The 2.2-pound, 2.5-foot-long drone would use infrared cameras to locate the shallow pools and allow the district rapidly to treat those areas with larvicide. The drone costs an estimated $80,000, including a comprehensive insurance policy. The battery-powered drone is capable of up to ninety minutes of flight before recharging. The drone can operate in up to 40 mph winds, at altitudes from 10 to 150 feet. In March, the district held a two-day sustainability summit to give staff and invited members of the public a chance to brainstorm on ways the district could operate more efficiently.
“We’ve got about five or six different projects we’re doing to find out where water is quickly to save us time treating with the larvicide,” stated Doyle. Other projects include water sensors and cameras on offshore islands. “If we can find the water, we can kill the mosquitoes. The real challenge is finding the water quickly enough.”
Condor Aerial of North Carolina produces the drones. The drones have mainly been used for law enforcement search-and-rescue operations, but civilian use is increasing. According to Condor CEO Fred Culbertson, “There are hundreds of these deployed across the globe, mainly for search-and-rescue operations, everybody has a different reason to use aerial technology, but it hasn’t been affordable until drones came on the scene. Over the course of time, these are easier to deploy and you don’t have all the costs that go along with a full-size aircraft.”
Florida is one of the leading states in the country in utilizing drone technology. Space Florida president Frank DiBello wants the state government to invest $1.4 million toward a drone program. “We’re positioning Florida with a foothold in a new industry,” DiBello told his board of directors, according to Florida Today. “This is a thing that’s good for the evolution of the aerospace industry in the state and we need to take that action and move on it.”