Robot tests the water
- By Natasha Haubold
- May 17, 2000
A robot developed by the U.S. Geological Survey is making it easier to monitor
the level and quality of ground water without exposing workers to dangerous
The new robotics system Robowell tests water-quality levels using the
same testing techniques as sampling crews, but it performs tests more frequently
than the crews would and it keeps humans out of potentially harmful areas.
Robowell collects data from groundwater wells and transmits it to a human
supervisor using a radio, cellular phone modem or satellite link.
When a contaminated water supply is detected, samples are put in a solid-state
storage device so a comprehensive laboratory analysis may be completed to
determine what cleanup efforts are needed.
"We expect that this technology may be useful as a scientific tool for an
early-warning system" to protect the public water supply, said USGS chief
hydrologist Robert Hirsch.
Robowell is being tested at four locations, including near a highway, at
a sewage infiltration facility and at the septic system at Walden Pond State
The robot also is being used at an experimental cleanup site where it was
able to notify personnel that a plume of contaminated water was present
in the water supply. Supervisors were able to increase sampling and easily
determine the success of cleanup efforts, according to a USGS spokesman.
USGS owns the patent and copyrights to the Robowell technology, but the
agency is willing to license it. Information on licensing and case studies
is available at USGS Web page.