SRP teams with ASU to develop high-tech drones

SRP and Arizona State University are teaming up to push the limits of technology.

ASU students and professors have been working hard to create this drone. Its goal is to autonomously monitor, collect and evaluate water quality from the 103-mile plus water canal system.

"This is a hexocopter with six propellors," said Wenlong Zhang, an assistant professor at ASU. "It is equipped with both high level onboard computers, as well as low level auto pilot to control the drone position and orientation."

The drone has sensors and cameras and it is designed to be lightweight to save enough battery power to go long distances.

"The Grasper, it's going to go around and conform around whatever object that is the beauty of soft robotics," said Panos Polygerinos, an assistant professor at ASU.

The group is also working on submersible drones.

"They would have dedicated canal segments that they would be patrolling and sending us back information," said Mike Ploughe, an SRP senior scientist. "If they find anything out of the ordinary under water... quality, perimeter, it would let us know and we could respond accordingly."

Currently, personnel collects data at over two dozen sites. It could take a full day to a week to get sampling done.

SRP says this technology will save time and money.

"We also have stationary locations that are measuring water quality in real time for us," Ploughe said. "So by having this other technology, we might be able to fill in those gaps and have more consistent, higher resolution water quality information for our customers."