Skyports Drone Services in collaboration with Makutu has successfully completed maiden test flights for a new drone inspection service set to help water companies monitor and improve the quality of river and coastal water. The new service, which combines Skyports Drone Services’ remote drone operations and winch technology with Makutu’s water testing solution, has launched with a pilot study UK water supplier Northumbrian Water.
The test flights demonstrate how beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) electric drone operations can be used to automate water quality surveys to improve access to hard-to-reach areas, reduce carbon footprint, gather more data over a larger area, and obtain results much faster.
The service aims to provide an alternative to current labour-intensive data collection processes which require personnel to manually collect water and return it to a central lab for testing. In rural locations, over large expanses, or during poor weather, this process can be difficult, dangerous and time consuming.
Skyports Drone Services’ deployed its Speedbird Aero aircraft, a recent addition to the UK company’s fleet, for phase one of the flights. The aircraft has been fitted with specialist winch technology which enables Skyports Drone Services to carry Makutu’s unique water sensor technology to testing locations. The winch lowers the sensor into the water to collect test samples, with data fed back to Northumbrian Water in near real-time for analysis.
The highly automated aircraft does not need to return to base between tests and can collect data from multiple test locations in a single outing and on a single battery charge.
Phase one proof-of-concept flights in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Bishop Auckland and Blyth in the northeast of the UK have focused on testing Skyports Drone Services and Makutu’s solution, supported by visual ground observers. The next phase will scale operations and see Skyports Drone Services operate remotely operated BVLOS sample collections.
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