This plastic decoy swan is really a robot developed to monitor Singapore’s waters. Source: National University of Singapore

Singapore deploys robotic swans to monitor water quality

FIVE robots designed to resemble swans are to be used at various reservoirs in Singapore to test and monitor raw water quality, the national water agency PUB said Monday.

Aptly called the Smart Water Assessment Network (Swan), the robots operate by trawling designated areas of water collecting samples and wirelessly sending back data through cloud computing.

The robots can be remotely controlled but they will mostly operate autonomously, only requiring basic monitoring and remote operation via an internet connection.

The technology was jointly developed by the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Environmental Research Institute and the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

During prior testing of the robots, they were used to monitor different physical and biological compounds in fresh water, including pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and chlorophyll – all known indicators for measuring problems in a water source.

PUB wants more data collected from newer reservoirs so as to better understand their conditions.

Physically having to collect samples from large water bodies with a boat can create logistical challenges for authorities, whereas the swans can save time, manpower and money. Deployment of the swans also shows the authorities’ willingness to invest in and deploy new technologies if it can save them time and money.

The robotic swans will be deployed at the Marina, Punggol, Serangoon, Pandan and Kranji reservoir.