August 01, 2015

The need for a better monitoring solution

With harmful algal blooms, eutrophication and emerging contaminants, monitoring of water bodies has become increasingly important. However water bodies cannot be modeled as isolated systems; many external factors such as urbanisation and other human activities affect them.

Proactive prediction to prevent events that can negatively impact our waters requires knowledge about various parameters. Traditionally water monitoring has been performed with static nodes that measure water quality at fixed points. These measurements are followed up with detailed water quality tests with collected water samples, as necessary. However water bodies are complex and their properties vary with space and time. With traditional methods, we only get very sparse temporal and spatial data. Scaling these methods has hitherto been impractical.

The Subnero Water Assessment Network (SWAN) addresses this issue by remotely monitoring water quality in water bodies using autonomous robots. The SWAN robots can operate in a fleet where they collaboratively sample a target area. The water quality data is available in real-time to operators of the SWAN. Operator personnel have the ability to then command the SWANs to refine the area of monitoring, focusing on areas of interest based on any unexpected data observed, for a more detailed analysis.

The autonomous nature of the solution allows for scaling to water bodies large & small. Moreover the modular nature of the SWAN allows the sensor payload on the SWAN to be easily swapped to focus on particular contaminants or general purpose monitoring or sampling. This makes the SWAN a powerful platform that is extensible to a variety of deployment needs. The visual appearance similar to an actual swan ensures that the monitoring system blends in with the environment.

Test bedding to date has shown that operators benefit from the autonomous nature of the platform, the real-time nature of the data collected and the ability to re-direct operations to focus on particular areas of concern. Efficiencies in terms of personnel deployment and operations has led to additional interest in expansion of operations.

Subnero offers the SWAN platform for deployments globally. Additional information is available here.