Each year, countries around the world – Africa, specifically, spend huge sums of money on mosquito control programmes and mosquito bite treatment.
Amid several interventions meant to eliminate the deadly insect, there are concerns about the chemicals’ toxins that are released into the environment.
There are even suggestions totally getting rid of mosquitoes will create an imbalance in nature.
So what allows them to live and come into our space but disable them from biting?
Well, Biomedical Engineering students of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have a built a robotic mosquito repellent.
Second-year students, Joana Owusu-Appiah, Selinam Fiadjo and Daniella Asare call the robot ‘Anquito’, coined from ‘anti’ and ‘mosquito’.
“We realise there are so many measures to kill mosquitoes but we thought to ourselves, is it a problem of mosquitoes living or the fact that they’re in our space?
“Somebody in his room with mosquito coil and net but when there is light out, he goes out for fresh air and gets bitten.”
“What can we do for people who are outside their rooms and getting fresh air” they thought.
How it works
The robot, built with computer programming, emits ultrasonic sounds.
Ultrasound is not different from “normal” sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it.
This limit varies from person to person and is approximately 20 kilohertz in healthy young adults.
Ultrasound is used in many different fields, including detecting objects and measuring distance.
Its imaging is often used in medicine.
Animals such as bats use ultrasound for locating prey and obstacles.
‘Anquito’ emits 38 kilohertz which is thought to ward off mosquitoes.
It is equipped with sensors which stop and change direction after encountering an obstacle.
The students are working to create a miniature of the machine and employ artificial intelligence to make it smarter.