Skyports Drone Services, in a groundbreaking collaboration with Makutu, has successfully completed its first test flights for a drone inspection service designed to enhance water quality monitoring for water companies. The service was piloted with Northumbrian Water in the UK and marks a significant advancement in environmental management.
The test flights have showcased the potential of using electric drones for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations in automating water quality surveys. This innovative approach aims to improve accessibility to challenging terrains, reduce carbon emissions, gather extensive data over larger areas, and deliver results swiftly compared to traditional methods.
Currently, water quality data collection is a laborious process, often requiring personnel to manually gather water samples and transport them to labs for testing. This method can be arduous, particularly in rural or expansive areas and in adverse weather conditions. The new drone service by Skyports Drone Services and Makutu offers a safer, faster, and more efficient alternative.
For the initial phase, Skyports Drone Services utilized its Speedbird Aero aircraft, equipped with special winch technology, to carry Makutu’s unique water sensor technology to testing sites. This setup allows the drone to collect water samples and relay data almost instantaneously for analysis, enhancing the efficiency of the monitoring process.
After successful concept proof in various UK locations, the next phase will focus on scaling up operations. Skyports Drone Services plans to conduct remote-operated BVLOS sample collections, further reducing the need for ground observers and enhancing the system's autonomy.
Alex Brown, Director of Skyports Drone Services, emphasized the project's significance in promoting sustainability and improving water quality monitoring. He highlighted the considerable impact this technology could have on the environment, field personnel, and communities relying on these water sources.
Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director at Northumbrian Water, expressed excitement about the project's progress and its contribution to the company's extensive water quality monitoring program. He anticipates the positive environmental impact this technology will bring to the North East region.
James Sumsion, CEO of Makutu, praised the collaboration as a pivotal moment in environmental stewardship and technological innovation. He acknowledged the project's role in streamlining data collection and analysis, leading to more effective water management decisions.
The successful test flights by Skyports Drone Services and Makutu represent a leap forward in using commercial drones for environmental monitoring and sustainability. By utilizing advanced drone technology, this partnership sets a new standard in water quality management, offering a glimpse into the future of ecological stewardship.