In order to guarantee the quality of our drinking water, samples are regularly taken in Dutch inland waterways such as recreational pools, rivers and ports. These are still being evaluated in a laboratory, a time-intensive process. In the future, drones and undersea robotics will have to carry out the process of tasting and analysis. To make that possible, a brand-new research job has actually started.

Tracking system

The research study project– HyperWater for brief– will be carried out by the maritime operator and system integrator DroneQ Robotics and specialist in AI and spectral imaging Spectro-AG. The job is funded from an R&D subsidy that was assigned by the SME Innovation Stimulation Region and Top Sectors (MIT) at the end of 2021.

The idea is that drones and underwater robots in combination with AI can ensure a much faster measurement and analysis procedure, since say goodbye to water samples require to be sent to a laboratory. Rather, the water quality on site is mapped through spectroscopy. An AI-based algorithm looks after the interpretation, after which the results can be seen immediately.

Hamed Mehdipoor, owner of Spectro-AG, explains: “We are going to establish a tracking system to measure surface water quality. This system will consist of both an underwater robot (ROV) from SEAMOR Marine Ltd. Marine as a professional drone that measures both chemical and biological contamination of water and soil in genuine time using hyperspectral video cameras. This data goes to our central platform that automatically transforms the measurement data into pertinent values and visual representations utilizing expert system.”

Faster and more affordable Now the water quality is assessed on basis of water samples. These are handled site and after that sent to a laboratory for analysis. Every year 505 million euros are spent in the Netherlands alone to keep an eye on and enhance water quality. In many cases, however, the water quality is below standard, and for that reason there is a high need for increasing the measurement frequency and the variety of measuring points.

According to John Troch of DroneQ Robotics, there is a great deal of profit to be made by automating the procedure and introducing new technology. “The old way of working has a number of important disadvantages that stand in the method of quality water management and an integrated technique. In addition, the approach is lengthy and pricey.”

Roll-out in Europe

If the monitoring system shows to work in the Netherlands, the consortium will focus on the European market (130,000 measuring areas). The initiators anticipate to be able to gain a competitive position quickly.

(via Space 53)