Did you know over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year?
Verily, the life sciences arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has created a robot that raises about one million mosquitoes every week in an automated lab.
They are treating the male mosquitoes with naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria, which results in creating non-hatching dead eggs when they mate with wild females.
The first batches of 20 million sterilized mosquitoes are being released in Fresno County, California.
The project is called ‘Debug Fresno.’ As per Verily engineering Chief Linus Upson, “If we can show that this technique can work, I’m confident we can make it a sustainable business because the burden of these mosquitoes is enormous.”
This massive bug campaign – probably the largest such field trial in US history – is a part of a bid to reduce the mosquito population and to fight mosquito borne diseases like Zika virus and dengue fever.
This project will take place over a 20-week period, and the mosquitoes will be released from Debug Fresno’s “Mobile Mosquito Unit” vans.
Upson said, “If we really want to be able to help people globally, we need to be able to produce a lot of mosquitoes, distribute them to where they need to be, and measure the populations at very, very low costs.”