Seqwater, the authority responsible for ensuring clean water is delivered to 3.1 million Queenslanders, has deployed an autonomous robot to check the quality of its water supplies and reservoirs.
The Seqwater Autonomous Motorised Monitoring Instrument, or SAMMI, was developed with the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute for Future Environments to conduct routine tests in difficult to access locations.
SAMMI was built and tested over the last nine months to follow location and task commands sent from Seqwater staff through a custom tablet-based user interface.
It then moves from place to place using multiple GPS and obstacle avoidance sensors to collect samples and other water information before returning back to a custom-made solar-powered charging station that doubles as a base for picking up the samples.
Queensland Natural Resources Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said that until now, the in-lake instruments used to analyse and monitor water quality for drinking and recreational use 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,” he said.
“With this new technology in combination with Seqwater’s existing fixed network, water quality monitoring will be more efficient and effective.’’
Matt Dunbabin, a robotics professor at QUT who previously unleashed an autonomous killer robot on the Great Barrier Reef, added that SAMMI is also equipped with sonar capabilities to create maps of each reservoir to better understand the layout and health of the underwater ecosystem.
It also comes equipped with attachments for helicopter transports, enabling it to be airlifted into remote, inaccessible areas.
Seqwater chief executive Neil Brennan said partnering with QUT for the project will allow the water authority to continue using technology to work smarter, not harder in the future.
“The development and implementation of SAMMI highlights the importance of finding research-based solutions to help best manage South East Queensland’s water supplies,” he said.
SAMMI is expected to be fully integrated into Seqwater’s operations over the second half of this year.