Wetlands are critical to the water cycle, yet they are a difficult environment to safely and effectively monitor. Robot systems have the potential to transform our understanding of complex wetlands systems by not only allowing faster and higher density sensing, but also by enabling new types of measurements and sample collections that cannot currently be performed without significantly disrupting these sensitive systems. This project proposes expanding current unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems, developing novel water monitoring systems, and designing algorithms in order to enable: (1) accurate measurement of the dynamic wetlands channels, including topography and flow, without prior knowledge, (2) adaptive and autonomous installation of static and limited-mobility sensors, and (3) optimization of the overall robot and sensor system to improve information gain while constrained by limited energy and communications.
Wetlands are a sensitive, yet critical ecosystem from which it is difficult to obtain samples without disturbing the system. Our developed system will provide better understanding of wetlands leading to cleaner water and better management particularly in our targeted area in the San Joaquin River watershed area in northern California.
This work funded by USDA-NIFA 2017-67021-25924.