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Singapore uses robot swans to monitor water quality in reservoirs

Singapore uses robot swans to monitor water quality in reservoirs

Safeguarding water security and sustainability has been a driving force behind innovation for the island city-state of Singapore. Robotic swans are among the latest real-time spatial-temporal water monitoring technology being used in Singapore.

According to Channel NewsAsia on Jan 15, the Singapore national water agency PUB announced the Smart Water Assessment Network (SWAN) project which uses 5 robotic swans to monitor raw water quality in various reservoirs on the island. The robot swans will be deployed in reservoirs at Marina, Punggol, Serangoon, Pandan and Kranji.

According to its first media debut on Channel NewsAsia in July 2015, the technology was jointly developed by PUB, the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Environmental Research Institute and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

Beneath the shell that is designed to resemble a real swan, the durable device is made up of propellers and water sampling equipment. As they float on water bodies, the robotic swans collect real-time water data while blending in with the natural surroundings in the reservoirs.

The robotic swans are to be used to collect data and monitor key indicators of fresh water quality, such as pH value, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll. They can also monitor reservoir condition and algae growth in case of an outbreak. According to NUS, the robot swan has the capability of performing simultaneous multi-node, high speed sensing for observing concentration gradients for better characterisation and detection of time varying hotspots.

As they float on water bodies, they could be remotely controlled to reach specific areas of the water body or explore different areas within the target water body autonomously. The real-time data collected will then be wirelessly sent back to analysts through cloud computing.

Using GPS technology, the robotic swan is able to track the dynamics of water quality as it will not re-visit monitored areas unless programmed to do so. Its large coverage will also improve the efficiency of current water monitoring methods that are both labour intensive and resource exhaustive.

This will help ease the burden of water authorities in deploying limited manpower to physically collect samples from water bodies across Singapore, especially to areas that are difficult to reach.

These robotic swans also are said to be durable even when they encounter recreational water equipment like kayaks and small boats.


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