As reported by the Micro Air Vehicle Laboaratory at TU Delft in the Netherlands, good water quality is important to humans and nature—especially so in a country with as much water as the Netherlands. Gathering data about water quality usually means driving or taking a boat to a location, then taking a sample by hand, and finally transporting it to a lab for analysis. This is of course time consuming, and delays in transportation can mean less accurate results, so researchers at this university have developed the Pelican drone for quick sampling.

The drone can fly above bodies of water and scan with a hyperspectral camera in order to detect irregularities like algae blooms. It then lands and takes a sample, and returns to its base station where the collected water is immediately analyzed with a CytoSense flow cytometer. From there, data is made available via an online portal, making the whole process very quick, efficient, and accessible.

Trials of the drone are ongoing, with scientists examining the results, and the goal is to one day not just take samples from the surface, but be able to submerge for underwater sampling as well. The device is intended to combat the problem of blue-green algae, but the technology could be useful in many data collection scenarios.

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