Researchers at the National University of Singapore have come up with a novel and discreet way to monitor water quality, especially in urban areas: robot swans.
The New Smart Water Assessment Network (shortened with the university’s initials to NUSwan) is an ongoing research project that uses small self-driving watercraft to test a number of standard water quality metrics and watch for pollutants and contaminants. The robots are disguised as white swans, which helps them blend into the environment.
Each bird-bot has a GPS receiver for navigation. That allows the bots to methodically move around a body of water and make sure different areas get tested without unnecessarily duplicating data points, while also letting them return on their own to a charging station — all of which minimizes the time researchers need to spend on direct remote control and maintenance. Data can be collected by Wi-Fi whenever the bots come in range of the shore.