China will be using a new type of antipollution drone to clear smog from the skies of selected airports later this month. The plan — the latest in a line of technological approaches to reducing dangerous particles from China's polluted cities — will see unmanned aerial vehicles taking to the air on flexible parasails before spraying chemicals that freeze atmospheric pollutants and cause them to fall to the ground.
The drones will be able to carry more than 1,543 pounds (700 kilograms) of chemicals, and are expected to be able to freeze pollution within a 3.1-mile (5 kilometer) radius. The South China Morning Post says China has used fixed-wing drones to perform a similar process in the past, but the new drones will be cheaper to maintain, easier to control, and carry a wider payload of chemicals. Ma Yongsheng, CEO of the company that developed the drone, said it could also be used for applications such as disaster relief and seed-sowing.
The drones are to be trialed after China's government "declared war" on pollution this week
The introduction of the drones comes after Li Keqiang, China's premier, who said yesterday the Chinese government was "declaring war" on pollution. Antipollution measures will focus on the pollutant particles thought most harmful to human health — those smaller than 2.5 micrometers — but, as Quartz points out, the drones won't remove the pollutants from Chinese cities entirely, instead leaving them frozen on the ground.