AI is helping drones kill mosquitoes in Hyderabad – here's a chat with the filmmaker who made it happen

  • Marut Drones claims to have built India’s first drone to eradicate mosquitoes larvae and water hyacinth on lakes.
  • It has also built autonomous drones for spraying on agricultural fields.
  • The startup was also one of the top startups in Facebook India’s Artificial Intelligence accelerator.
Prem Kumar Vislawath lives in the IT area of Hyderabad – Gachibowli, whereas his parents lived 40 kms away near a lake – Mantrala Cheruvu. The name which means a ‘lake of magic’ has nothing magical about it. Moreso, it is swarming with mosquitoes. Whenever he visited home one situation that alarmed him was – the rising number of mosquitoes.

Play iconA circle surrounding a triangle pointing right. It indicates, "this type of media can be played."The AI Buzz is eradicating mosquitoes
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With every visit, Vislawath would drop in a letter to the local municipal authorities. Seventeen letters went unresponded and he finally decided to visit them, one of whom said, “Educated people like you need to be helping out authorities in these situations.”

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That’s when the IIT Guwahati graduate took a step back from his active role as the co-founder of Raasta Films, a filmmaking company and decided to build his second startup along with his batchmates Sai Kumar Chinthala and Suraj Peddi. They built Marut Drones – a startup that uses drones to spray mosquito killing repellent in Hyderabad’s massive lakes.

“These lakes have water hyacinths growing in them, which often makes it difficult for authorities to enter and spray repellents. Workers too are prone to diseases when they enter water, as it also takes a long time to clean. With the drone we can easily target specific areas where larvae are breeding,” Vislawath told Business Insider.

What disturbed Vislawath was that as many as 9.7 million cases of mosquito borne diseases are reported in a year. They lead to 40,297 deaths.
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The startup claims to have built India’s first drone to eradicate mosquitoes larvae and water hyacinth on lakes as well as autonomous drones that spray on agricultural fields. They also use an AI platform to identify mosquito borne diseases and the areas where they breed.

“All of Hyderabad has only 17 entomologists. Only when a complaint comes in, a manual survey is done to check for mosquito breeding. They don’t have real time data. With our technology, a dashboard will show them the data of different breeds of mosquitoes,” he said.

Marut Drones has built an IOT device, which captures mosquitoes within a 500 metre range and identifies whether its male or female and what kind of disease it could be carrying. Based on that, they give recommendations on whether the specific area has larvae or adult mosquitoes and how to deal with it.
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Interestingly for Vislawath and Sai, it was an obvious choice to use drones as they used them for filmmaking.

They partnered with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. After a pilot in March in Miyapur lake , the mosquito larval density has come down from 41 per ladle of water to 28.

With great results and a boost from the Hyderabad Municipal corporation, Marut Drones is now expanding to Mumbai and Raipur.
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“We aim to reach out to all smart cities in the country with our effective solutions,” said Vislawath.

The startup was also one of the top startups in Facebook India’s Artificial Intelligence accelerator, through which they will get a month of mentorship from the social media giant.

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