The floating robots on the left are passive, going where the currents take them. The devices on the right are autonomous and have propellers that help them maneuver away from obstacles in the water. (Credit: Jonathan Beard)
|CREDIT: University of California, Berkeley|
Swarms of robots equipped with a sensors and GPS units are swimming in California rivers measuring water flow, salinty levels and pollution.
At the University of California, Berkeley, a group of 100 robots was released into the Sacramento River near Walnut Grove, Calif. The project, called the Floating Sensor Network, will, the designers hope, change the way water quality and flows are monitored in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system. About two thirds of California's fresh water is in that system, supplying some two-thirds of the state's population with drinking and irrigation. The initiative is led by associate professor Alexandre Bayen at the Center for Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).
The robots each have a sensor to test the salinity of the water and a GPS unit from a smartphone. Some have propellers so they can maneuver around obstacles and reach specific destinations. They even have Android phones in them and tweet. (Their handle is @fsnandroid61).