Singapore’s National Water Agency (PUB) will start using autonomous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drones to monitor water quality at six reservoirs across the city-state, from June 2021.
The BVLOS drones are fitted with remote sensing technology and cameras for real-time video data, which will help detect aquatic plant overgrowth and poor water quality based on levels of algae concentration.
The drones will also send live alerts to PUB officers via their mobile devices, enabling them to respond immediately. Alerts include illegal fishing in non-designated areas and vessel overcrowding.
PUB officers currently carry out these reservoir checks manually during daily patrols. PUB says the drone deployments will save around 5,000 man-hours per year, which can be re-assigned to other tasks.
Yeo Keng Soon, Director of PUB's Catchment and Waterways Department, said: “With 17 reservoirs – which are an important water supply source for Singapore – under our care, it can be a challenge manpower-wise to effectively monitor what goes on at each reservoir and ensure the reservoirs are in optimal condition. Our use of drones is in line with PUB's commitment to leverage technology as part of the SMART PUB roadmap to improve our operations and meet future needs.”
“With the drones, we can channel manpower to more critical works such as the inspection and maintenance of reservoir gates, as well as pump and valve operations. The drones also act as an early warning system that enhances our response time to the myriad of issues that our officers grapple with on a daily basis” he added.
The drones are programmed to follow certain flight paths to avoid disturbing those in residential areas. Drone monitoring will occur four days a week at Marina and MacRitchie reservoirs, and one or two days a week at the other four reservoirs, at regular periods throughout the day.
Photo credit: Singapore National Water Agency