What if little swimming robots could monitor water quality in lakes and reservoirs, and treat any issues they find on the spot? As far-fetched and science fiction as this sounds, swimming robots could soon be targeting and treating water quality issues in exactly this way.
A group of European scientists and engineers are working on a 3.2 million euro project with the aim of making drones that can treat algae blooms. Of course, this will not be a foolproof endeavor if we do nothing to counteract the underlying causes of the blooms, but it is an interesting step to interfere with the feedback loop involved in these blooms.
So, how does it work? This "Dronic Project", as it is formally called, begins with a ‘Master' drone, armed with water quality sensors. This Master done then swims along a programmed route through the water to detect algal hotspot. If algae above certain concentrations are detected, the master drone will map the locations and dimensions of the bloom, send those data to the ‘Slave' drones, which will then attack the blooms with ultrasonic waves!
The consortium hopes that this technology will provide an effective treatment for algae and cyanobacteria in lakes, as well as within drinking water reservoirs.
We've really entered the future haven't we?