Electric Drones to Monitor Water Quality in Pilot Project

A Skyports drone flies above a body of water with monitoring tools

(Credit: Skyports Drone Services)

by | Jan 16, 2024

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Skyports Drone Services and Makutu have successfully completed test flights for their drone inspection service used to monitor water quality of river and coastal water, and they will now launch a pilot study with United Kingdom water supplier, Northumbrian Water.

The new service combines Skyports’ remote drone operations with Makutu’s water testing offerings and aims to provide an alternative to labor-intensive data collection currently used to test water quality. The electric, automated aircraft is reportedly able to collect data from multiple test locations in one outing without returning to base between tests, all on one charge.

The companies claim that the completed test flights confirm the beyond visual line of sight (BLVOS) technology’s ability to access hard-to-reach areas, reduce carbon impact, gather more data over a greater area, and obtain faster results. With the first round of tests now completed in person in the northeast of the U.K., the next round will focus on remotely operating the BVLOS sample collections. Northumbrian Water reportedly covers about 5,840 miles, and the drone solution may allow for environmentally friendly, efficient monitoring of the whole area.

“We’re just as passionate as our customers about protecting the environment and improving river and coastal water quality so to have these test flights underway is really exciting,” said Richard Warneford, wastewater director at Northumbrian Water. “There’s a lot of hard work gone into understanding how UAV technology can be used to collect data efficiently, and these successful test flights have proven the validity of it as part of our huge water quality monitoring program.”

Smart Water Technologies Address Pollution Concerns, Save Multiple Resources

Especially as the U.K. has faced criticism in the last couple of years over river pollution concerns and poor sewage management, smart water systems such as Skyports and Makutu’s new solution may allow for quicker responses to pollution incidents.

“We’re proud to be making history with this project and we can’t wait to begin rolling it out officially across the North East – it’s just another step towards having the cleanest rivers and beaches in the country,” said Warenford.

Smart water systems may allow utilities to save on time and labor costs while contributing to better water management and conservation. The planet is expected to experience considerable water deficits within the next decade, and quality data on water may be key to sustainable consumption and water conservation.


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