New solar-powered robot to revolutionise water quality monitoring in Qld

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Seqwater, one of Australia’s largest water businesses, is working with robotic researchers at QUT’s Institute for Future Environments to revolutionise the way water quality is being monitored across South East Queensland.

The collaboration resulted in the creation of Seqwater’s Autonomous Motorised Monitoring Instrument (SAMMI), a solar-powered, self-driving robot designed to conduct routine water quality monitoring in difficult to access locations.

SAMMI operates by following location and task commands preloaded using a custom tablet-based user interface. It moves from one location to another using a range of GPS and obstacle avoidance sensors and then collects water samples and other water quality information before returning to base.

This allows operation anytime of the day or night, rain or sunshine.

Queensland Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, who visited North Pine Dam for a demonstration of the new technology, said the use of SAMMI would revolutionise the way Seqwater monitors its water quality.

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“Water quality monitoring for drinking water and for recreation is critical to Seqwater’s operations,” Dr Lynham said.

“Until now, the in-lake instruments Seqwater used to analyse and monitor water quality could only be used in fixed locations. This meant the field scientists had to travel to difficult-to-access areas in order to monitor and service these instruments.

“With this new technology in combination with Seqwater’s existing fixed network, water quality monitoring will be more efficient and effective.’’

The 1.7m robot, which can dock into a custom berth to allow for solar recharging and attachments for helicopter lifting into remote, inaccessible areas, is capable of operating autonomously in waterways collecting water samples and measuring water quality parameters, as well as creating sonar maps of each reservoir.

Seqwater CEO Neil Brennan said the company expects to incorporate SAMMI into its operations over the second half of 2019.

“The development and implementation of SAMMI highlights the importance of finding research-based solutions to help best manage South East Queensland’s water supplies,” Mr Brennan added.

“As technology evolves it provides us with the fantastic opportunities to incorporate cutting edge solutions and help us work smarter.”

Image credit: www.qut.edu.au