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Using DJI drones to collect water samples in Brazil

We know that drones can be used for many different purposes to benefit our society. In this article, we’re taking a look at using drones to collect water samples in Brazil. Caio Cavalhieri, a student at the Instituto de Pesquisas Technológicas in São Paulo, Brazil used small off-the-shelf DJI drones to collect water samples and he published a research paper on his findings.

Collecting water samples with DJI drones in Brazil

The goal of the study was to develop a surface water sampling method that would meet established sampling procedures, that is simple to build, operate and maintain, and demonstrate the potential to become viable products and services. In the research paper, Cavalhieri writes:

Seeking alternatives to conventional surface water sampling solutions, the present work developed two prototypes that collect samples from the top of water bodies using tools such as small quadcopter drones, embedded microcontrollers, and disposable bailers. As reported below, the results of this work were satisfactory, and, in general, both prototypes have the potential to significantly improve fieldwork routines based on surface water sampling.

In the study, he used DJI drones such as the DJI Phantom 1 and a DJI Phantom 3 Professional to test out two different water sampling methods.

Cavalhieri concludes his report with the following:

Based on the results of laboratory and field experiments, it is reasonable to say that prototypes 1 and 2 have the potential to significantly improve surface water sampling routines. The simple fact that both of them are solutions based on the use of small drones is already an advantage over conventional sampling procedures. In fact, water sampling with drones reduces the need for boats or bridges to access different sampling points and also allows samples to be collected according to renowned procedures, such as those preconized by the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater.

When compared to each other, prototype 2 stood out for: (i) its simplicity of operation and maintenance; (ii) being able to collect up to 150mL of water sample on each flight; and (iii) having a disposable bailer as its sampling device. Moreover, by using a camera that provides real-time images, prototype 2 can keep a 5m vertical distance from the water surface throughout the sampling procedure and the operation can happen even when the drone is beyond the pilot’s visual range.

 

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