We all know that swans are evil, bitey animals, whose only real purpose is to look pretty. Wouldn’t it be great if they could something more than just skate by on their good looks? Something like monitoring the water quality of reservoirs in a country struggling to combat pollution—like, say, Singapore?
That’s a wonderful goal, but unfortunately swans are notoriously difficult to train. They’re also pretty terrible at handling lab equipment properly. Robots, on the other hand, are very easy to train, follow instructions to the letter, and are great at collecting and analyzing samples.
Naturally, researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Environmental Research Institute and Tropical Marine Science Institute chose the latter for their environmental monitoring program, instead of inferior biological swans.
The team from that mouthful of higher-learning had a goal of creating a smart monitoring system for Singapore’s reservoirs. It needed to be aesthetically pleasing, while still looking natural in the environment. They had already come up with the name Smart Water Assessment Network (SWAN), so obviously they decided to make the robots look like swans. Alright, maybe it was the other way around, but you get the idea.
The swanbots paddle around the reservoirs collecting water samples. They can then analyze those samples to measure PH, oxygenation, chlorophyll levels, and turbidity. They can then transmit the results wirelessly to shore, where they can be used to determine if the water is safe to drink.