When we first heard of [Ildar Rakhmatulin’s] plan to use OpenCV on a Raspberry Pi to detect mosquitos and then zap them with a 1 watt laser, we thought it was sort of humorous. However, the paper points out that 700,000 people die each year from mosquito bites — we didn’t verify that, but according to the article that’s twice the number of people murdered each year. So the little pests are pretty effective assassins.
It looks as though the machine has been built, at least in a test configuration. A galvanometer aims the death ray using mirrors, and with the low power and lossy mirrors the mosquitos can only be a small distance from the machine — about a foot.
Even so, the paper claims they could neutralize two mosquitos per second. We wonder how many of them survived but were blinded. There were several different detection algorithms in Python but even the best algorithms didn’t track 100% and the actual kill rate of mosquitos was quite low, topping out at 15%.
Clearly, this has some work to do, but if you decide to tackle it, the research will be invaluable. There was talk of using a different camera lens to get a larger volume of detection and, of course, a more powerful laser. If the tracking algorithm could be pushed to a smaller controller, the system could be light enough and power efficient enough to fly on a drone. However, we were unclear how you’d protect non-mosquitos from being hit with the laser of death. While a 1-watt laser might not kill you, even a 1 mW laser can produce effects on your eye greater than staring into the bright sun.