Robotics Research Lab

AMS-HyRes

Autonomous Mobile Sensors for Hyper-Resolution Hydrology

Project Description

River basins around the world are facing rapid large-scale environmental changes brought about by
natural forces that have been unleashed by climate change; historical forces driven by social,
political and demographic changes; and global transitions triggered by new technologies. The
impact of these changes is felt most in the water sector in poor management of irrigation networks,
depleting groundwater, deterioration in water quality, poor sanitation and difficulties in preservation
of eco-systems. In parallel, there have been astonishing developments in ICT related technologies
including robotics, sensor networks and machine that hold great promise in enabling the monitoring,
modelling and forecasting of water, agriculture and environmental systems.
Under these general frameworks of hydro-informatics and precision agriculture, we propose to
tackle some outstanding challenges related to monitoring of surface water resources in the Indus
basin using robotics technologies. The difficulties in collection of water samples from remote or
inaccessible locations, the challenges in continued structural monitoring of natural and engineered
resources and the need to incorporate high-resolution sensor data into hydrodynamic models has
prompted us to propose robotic sensing solutions. Building on our resident expertise in water
resources and experience of developing aerial and ground based robotic platforms, we propose to
develop and deploy semi-autonomous sensor floats that will produce surveys of water channels
using standard techniques of simultaneous mapping and localization. We also propose to enhance
the capability of aerial and floating robots for water sample collection. For this, the aerial robots
(available from previous work) will be equipped for accurate positioning and water suction
capability. We therefore take our first steps towards aerial manipulation capability. In the final phase
of our work, we will set up a framework to incorporate the robotic surveys into hydrodynamic models
to increase the temporal and spatial resolution of existing surface hydrology models.
The project is built on nine fruitful years of collaboration between the Pakistani and German
partners, expertise in robotics and cyber physical systems technologies on both sides and the rich
multi-disciplinary experience of the Pakistani partner in applying ICT solutions to water and
agriculture problems in the local context. In this project, we extend the relationship in the direction of
including numerical methods in hydrology as a way to both understand and exploit the physical
environment that intelligent systems work in, with an eye towards solving a major development
challenge related to Pakistan.

Project Partners

  • LUMS – Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan

Funded by

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

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