The DRONIC project aims to develop a new, innovative blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) monitoring and treatment robotic system, that can localize hotpots of blue-green algae blooms and only treats the part of the lake which is experiencing blue-green algae bloom. Because of the direct and local treatment, the system is environmentally friendly, with a minimal impact on the ecology of the lake. The new water robot concerns the retrieval, prevention and abatement of harmful algae blooms in lakes and in inland water reservoirs used for drinking water production. In lakes and reservoirs, species of blue-green algae and their concentrations can vary locally as a result of wind or water flow direction and local variations in temperature, nutrient concentrations and water depths. In lakes and reservoirs, hotspots of blue-green algal blooms can be often detected only in one area of the water body whereas other areas do not experience any problems due to blue-green algae. Therefore, it is important to map the algal concentration over extended areas in a flexible way, in order to localize algal hotspots. The mobility of the robot will allow targeted and intensive algae reduction at hotspot locations, thereby increasing the efficiency of the abatement measure. In addition to measurements directly related to algae concentration also water quality and hydrographic parameters will be measured in order to locate the algae, and to make an estimation of the local water quality and hydrography. With DRONIC technology, blooms of blue-green algae will be treated locally at the place where the blooms are present and there is no need to treat the complete surface of the lake or reservoir anymore. Besides that, with the local use of higher power ultrasound systems, also the cyanobacterial by-products like toxins can be neutralized.
Within the DRONIC project it is foreseen to have demonstration activities at three locations. A first objective of DRONIC is to consult the end users to collect domain knowledge specific to the applications considered – environmental monitoring and blue-green algae treatment. The response of the users is then used to identify the possible DRONIC use-cases, and produce a formal specification of the desired DRONIC behaviour and functionality for each intended use-case. A second objective is building a database with categorized information on most common bloom-forming blue green algal species which are causing severe problems in European standing water bodies (lakes, reservoirs), their occurrence (past and present) and related metabolic by-products (toxins). The database contains detailed information on ecology and occurrence of selected blue-green algal species, type of toxins produced and their impact on human health and type of other by-products produced. The database will be the basis for the definition of the observation strategies and design of the ultrasonic transducer.
At the moment there are five potential demonstration sites described, but later in the project the final selection of the demonstration sites will take place and is depending on several factors, e.g. the operational requirements, the accessibility of the site, and so on.
The specifications of the demonstration sites will also be used to validate the correctness of the designed system.
The development of the DRONIC technology comprises of three phases:
Phase 1: System requirements
The focus of phase 1 is gathering the user requirements and the formal specifications of the DRONIC technology behaviour and functionality through consultations with the end users. The user requirements and the formal specification are the basis for:
- the operational requirements
- the preliminary specifications of the robotic system
- the definition of global software architecture and interfaces
- the preliminary specification of the environmental management system
Phase 2: Design
The design phase includes:
- the design of the smart USV’s
- the design of the ultrasound acoustic system
- the design of the DSS
- the design of the software for the smart USV’s and the base control system
Phase 3: Development
The development phase comprises the development of the smart USV’s and the related software, the DSS, the ultrasound acoustic system and finally the integration of all the components and system testing.