Measuring water quality throughout river networks with precision, speed and at lower cost than traditional methods is now possible with AquaBOT, an aquatic drone developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The maneuverable AquaBOT measures water quality indicators such as nitrate, temperature and dissolved oxygen along the entire length of mid-sized streams where water quality can be variable.
“Compared to manual measurements taken in just a few locations, the drone gives a much more detailed picture of what’s happening along streams and rivers,” said ORNL’s Natalie Griffiths. “AquaBOT helps us identify hot spots where pollutants, such as excess fertilizer, are flowing into waterways. Pinpointing these areas is the first step to understanding water quality changes and developing solutions.”
Griffiths and colleagues at Drake University are using AquaBOT to study streams in Iowa croplands, evaluating potential sustainability practices with bioenergy crops. Her team is also adapting the technology to measure climate-warming methane emissions from reservoirs.