Land Rover has joined forces with the Mobile Malaria Project, winners of the 2018 Land Rover Bursary in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society to embark on an eight-week adventure.
The trip will comprise of three Oxford University researchers, led by Dr George Busby, and will take in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. They will cross more than 6,300 km in a specially-modified Land Rover Discovery to investigate the challenges facing those on the front line of malaria control in Africa.
"We are humbled that Land Rover and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) have chosen our project as the 2018 bursary winner," said Dr George Busby, Mobile Malaria Project Expedition Leader. "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."
"The loan of the Discovery not only gives us the capability we need to visit locations we might not have been able to reach otherwise, it gives us the space and versatility to transport the equipment we need. This will allow us to gain a better understanding of how this technology could be used to answer locally relevant questions about malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them."
The car has been designed and developed by the Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations skunkworks, and is equipped with a mobile genetic sequencing laboratory that includes a fridge/freezer unit to safely store scientific supplies, a bespoke load space configuration frame system with specially-designed storage equipment cases, and an on-board expedition battery. The unique modifications will allow the research 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.
On the exterior of the vehicle there is a purpose-built dual sun awning, rescue equipment, a winch, sand/mud tracks, expedition roof rack and LED night driving lamps.
"Malaria is a global issue which impacts millions of people worldwide. At Jaguar Land Rover we are passionate about using our technology to empower talent and enable experts in their field to make a real difference in our world," said Dr Steve Iley, Chief Medical Officer, Jaguar Land Rover. "Through the bespoke technology developed by our Special Vehicle Operations team, this project has the potential to deliver a real insight into malaria control globally and I am proud that Land Rover can be a part of that journey."