Singapore’s robotic swans testing water quality

Singapore’s robotic swans testing water quality

Singapore’s water reservoirs are home to a variety of natural inhabitants including smooth-coated otters. Adding to this are five swans. The catch is these swans are robots.

By Robert C. Brears*

Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) has created the Smart Water Assessment Network (SWAN) to monitor water quality in the five reservoirs of Marina, Punggol, Serangoon, Pandan, and Kranji. In the past, water sampling was conducted manually and through stationary online water quality profiler stations that continuously monitored basic water quality.

SWAN complements this process by automating the process of monitoring raw water quality in real-time and in hard-to-reach locations, with each SWAN collecting pH, conductivity, chlorophyll levels, and turbidity. To ensure the robot does not disturb the natural environment while collecting the data, designers from PUB and the National University of Singapore’s Environmental Research Institute and Tropical Marine Science Institute came up with the swan design.

Each SWAN is fitted with a water quality sampler and water quality profiler to monitor water in real-time with data sent back to PUB live. The SWANs also have an inbuilt camera to capture photos of the water surface. With this range of technology, the robots can work autonomously only requiring basic monitoring and operational maintenance, freeing up resources to perform other tasks.

The take-out

Autonomous robots enable real-time monitoring of water quality in hard-to-reach locations.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of  Urban Water Security  (Wiley)  The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan),  Natural Resource Management and the Circular Economy   (Palgrave Macmillan),  Blue and Green Cities: The Role of Blue-Green Infrastructure in Managing Urban Water Resources   (Palgrave Macmillan) and editor of  Climate Resilient Water Resources Management (Palgrave Macmillan). He is Founder of Our Future WaterMitidaption, and Mark and Focus.

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