September 08, 2022

Redefining water quality monitoring with Blue Robotics and the SWAN

The Subnero Water Assessment Network (SWAN) is a solution that automates the process of water quality monitoring, through a network of autonomous surface robot “swans” (SwanBots) and data-collecting assets (SwanNodes) connected to the SwanCloud server. The SWAN provides the user with real-time water quality data, required by water utilities, water treatment companies, or water infrastructure organizations for monitoring their water supplies.

Conventional methods of water quality monitoring can be a time-consuming, resource-intensive, and an expensive process. Manpower is required to collect manual samples from various locations at the site and to bring them back for analysis in the laboratory. Laboratory results can take days to come out and only covers part of the water when the sampling was done. As a result, issues in the water may remain undetected or become more difficult to treat if they are not discovered in time.With the SWAN, issues in the water can be detected quickly, it also provides continuous and real-time data sets of large water bodies. SWAN incorporates intelligent algorithms and machine-learning techniques that adapt the SwanBot’s path to monitor areas with anomalies or uncertainty in the data.

Building an effective monitoring solution using Blue Robotics

The autonomous SwanBots developed by Subnero utilize several components from Blue Robotics that are essential for the SwanBots to carry out their necessary operations. The Blue Robotics components fitted on the SwanBots include the T200 thrusters, basic electronic speed controllers, and tether cables used for underwater spooling.

Covering new grounds with SWAN

The SWAN reduces reliance on manpower by carrying out the monitoring and sampling independently of an operator. While the SwanBot goes on a mission, it monitors the water quality at regular intervals and sends these data to the user in real-time through the cloud network.

What assists the SwanBot to move across large and remote water bodies in accordance with its mission are the T200 thrusters from Blue Robotics. The smooth running of the thrusters enables the SwanBot to glide gracefully in the waters, thus blending in naturally with its surroundings. The lightweight and modular size of the T200 thrusters also contribute to keeping the weight of the SwanBot low, which is ideal for the SWAN, as it is a solution deployed with minimum logistics.

The SwanBot’s speed may be controlled using Blue Robotics’ basic electronic speed controllers (ESC), which are typically adjusted according to the environmental conditions of the deployment. For movement in waters with opposing currents, the SwanBot’s speed has to be increased to overcome the opposing winds and waves, by raising the power input to the T200 thrusters through the ESC.

On the other hand, when the SwanBot is moving in calmer waters, its speed may be reduced to save the power and at the same time minimize disturbances to the water while monitoring is ongoing. T200 thrusters generally have a low power requirement as compared to others in the market, hence saving on the SwanBot’s power and extending its runtime.

Reaching depths, positively

Beyond the surface of the water, the SWAN is capable of monitoring the water quality at depth, to a maximum of 5 meters. This feature is beneficial for users who wish to get a better understanding of the behavior of a phenomenon in the water and the likely cause of it. The Fathom ROV Tether from Blue Robotics is used to power the sensor on the SwanBot while supporting its weight as it reaches various depths for monitoring. The Blue Robotics tether is a lightweight and rugged solution, hence its selection.

It has been great working with Blue Robotics components on the SWAN. Blue Robotics’ products has played a necessary role in enabling the SWAN’s key functionality of spatio-temporal monitoring in water bodies. Subnero is constantly looking forward to new and innovative products from Blue Robotics to bring on board our platform, to expand the SWAN’s capabilities and take on new frontiers.