When it comes to humanitarian causes, Land Rover’s choice for the mission would be the Discovery. You might remember the Project Hero with its own drone on the roof. This time, there’s a new one modified as a mobile laboratory to help with malaria research.
This project is in association with Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), which has been awarded to three Oxford University researchers, led by Dr George Busby (middle one in the photo). The Mobile Malaria Project will travel more than 6,300 km across Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, investigating the challenges faced by those on the front line of malaria control in Africa – where 90 per cent of the world’s cases occur.
Modified by Special Vehicle Operations or SVO, the Discovery’s exterior comes with bespoke additions including a purpose-built dual sun awning, rescue equipment, a winch, sand/mud tracks, expedition roof rack and LED night driving lamps. Making full-use of the vehicle’s 1,137-litre load space is a mobile genetic sequencing laboratory.
Not only does it feature a freezer unit to safely store scientific supplies, there is also a bespoke load space configuration frame system with specially-designed storage equipment cases and an on-board expedition battery.
These modifications will allow the team to trial portable DNA sequencing technology, in collaboration with African research centres, to better understand how the technology can be used in different locations. This will provide important information about malaria parasite and mosquito populations, including drug and insecticide resistance, the company said.
“We are humbled that Land Rover and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) have chosen our project as the 2018 bursary winner. Although global malaria rates have halved over the past 20 years, progress more recently has stalled. By working with colleagues in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, our journey will help us to understand the challenges facing malaria researchers in Africa in 2019,” said Dr George Busby.