Skyports Drone Services and Makutu Launch Water Quality Survey Drone Flights in Partnership with Northumbrian Water
In a groundbreaking collaboration, Skyports Drone Services and Makutu have successfully conducted maiden test flights for a revolutionary drone inspection service designed to enhance water quality monitoring for river and coastal waters. This innovative venture, in partnership with UK water supplier Northumbrian Water, seeks to revolutionize the industry by combining Skyports Drone Services’ expertise in remote drone operations and winch technology with Makutu’s advanced water testing solutions.
The newly launched service utilizes beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) electric drone operations to automate water quality surveys, offering improved access to challenging locations, reduced carbon footprint, and faster data collection over larger areas.
The objective is to present an alternative to labor-intensive data collection processes, particularly in rural or difficult-to-reach areas, where manual collection and transportation of water samples to a central lab can be arduous and time-consuming.
Skyports Drone Services deployed its cutting-edge Speedbird Aero aircraft, equipped with specialized winch technology, during the initial phase of flights. The drone seamlessly carries Makutu’s unique water sensor technology to testing locations, lowering the sensor into the water to collect samples. The collected data is then transmitted in near real-time to Northumbrian Water for analysis.
The highly automated Speedbird Aero aircraft eliminates the need to return to base between tests, allowing for continuous data collection from multiple locations on a single battery charge.
Phase one proof-of-concept flights, conducted in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Bishop Auckland, and Blyth in the northeast of the UK, focused on testing the efficiency of Skyports Drone Services and Makutu’s integrated solution. Visual ground observers supported these tests, with the next phase set to scale operations and introduce remotely operated BVLOS sample collections.
Alex Brown, Director of Skyports Drone Services, emphasized the project’s commitment to sustainability, safety, and improved access through electric drone services. Brown stated, “Water quality is a hugely important issue in the UK. The unique solution we’ve developed with Makutu provides water companies with critical real-time data, enabling better monitoring, maintenance, and faster response to issues.”
Richard Warneford, Wastewater Director at Northumbrian Water, expressed excitement about the project, highlighting the successful test flights as a testament to the validity of UAV technology in their water quality monitoring program. Warneford said, “We’re proud to be making history with this project and we can’t wait to begin rolling it out officially across the North East – it’s just another step towards having the cleanest rivers and beaches in the country.”
James Sumsion, Chief Executive Officer of Makutu, described the collaboration as a significant milestone in environmental stewardship and technological innovation. He emphasized the power of partnership and forward-thinking in addressing ecological challenges, stating, “This project is an excellent example of how cutting-edge technology can be leveraged for the greater good. We’re excited to see how this pilot study evolves and contributes to setting new standards in environmental monitoring and sustainability across the country.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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