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Mapping water quality using aquatic drones

Local water managers in Myanmar are interested in applying and testing unmanned tools to assess the water quality in one of the main lakes in the heart of Yangon: the Kandawgyi Lake, where the water quality has been rapidly deteriorating. Spatially distributed information about water quality in the lake will be used to plan actions to improve the water quality in the lakes. A second measuring location was the Inle Lake, a famous site for its picturesque fishing activities and extensive floating gardens. The water quality beneath the gardens, and throughout different parts of the lake is being investigated. Other locations such as reservoirs or rivers may also be scanned with aquatic drones during this project.

After this field monitoring campaign, a long-term water quality monitoring plan will be designed based on the observed spatial variability and the mapped pollution hotspots. Local Myanmar students of the University of Yangon will continue collecting relevant water quality data on these lakes. INDYMO will also contribute to the discussion of potential solutions together with stakeholders/water managers, including DWIR (Rijkswaterstaat of Myanmar), WWF or the Yangon Technical University.

Water Quality Measurements in Hanoi, Vietnam (April 2019)

Over the next three years, Delft University of Technology will support Vietnam in training water management professionals. The ‘Climate Proof Vietnam’ programme was officially launched on Wednesday in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. To this end, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (I&W), together with her Vietnamese colleague Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan, launched a Delft underwater drone for water quality testing in a lake in Hanoi.

Inspecting the quality of polluted water resources around Surabaya, Indonesia

The use of the drones is part of a large-scale international research project to find ways to improve the water quality of the Brantas- and Surabaya rivers that both end up in this Indonesian city. The research is conducted by a Dutch-Indonesian consortium with experts from many organisations, including the Indonesian organisation Ecological observation and wetlands conservation (Ecoton), the Indonesian water board Jasa Tirta 1, the river basin management organisation BBWS and the technical university of ITS Surabaya.

In 2017, Indymo collected data in-situ using underwater drones with multi-parameter probes installed, Caddisfly test strips and phone apps (online database), sensors installed on boats, profiling water quality from bridges, groundwater survey, and other methods. Read more about this project in the publications page.

Water Quality data of the Niger River around Bamako, Mali

The project which launched the drone is focused on water quality of the river Niger, and it will monitor the quality through the use of Akvo Caddisfly, and the aforementioned Indymo underwater drone. Caddisfly uses a sensor which collects physico-chemical and bacteriological pollution indicators from the water, is connected to a smartphone app and can be used from the side of a boat. With the Indymo drone, more difficult-to-reach spots are also monitored, such as the inside of drain pipes and the edges of the shore.

Prior to the launch of the drone, the local team received training on how to work with underwater drones, and Indymo left the team with instruction videos as well.

The project not only focuses on assembling new data on water; alongside the launch of the drone, a website was also launched which collects data from different organisations. This makes the data and analyses accessible to a larger audience, contributing in itself to better awareness about the current water quality situation and possible implications for the future.


Impacts of Floating Structures

A study was conducted to assess the impacts of floating structures on water quality and ecology. Several locations with floating structures were monitored with underwater drones equipped with cameras and sensors. On the right, the videos give an impression of the locations and underwater ecology collected with the underwater drone that was used to go under the floating structures.

Within the project, different data collection strategies are being used: benthic scans with underwater drones, transects of water quality parameters, depth profiling, continuous/static measurements.

Learn more about this project in the “Research” section, where presentations (video) and publications are available. Additional information is also available in the Climatescan map tool (search for the blue dots in the map!).

Check also: Blue21’s website about the Blue Revolution!

Blue-green algae monitoring

Information on algal concentrations is becoming more relevant these days due to the impact of harmful algal blooms. The so called blue-green algae can be dangerous for the human health when ingested and can cause stomach and lung infections but also liver damage and by contact can give irritation on the skin and eyes (Steven L. 2014). This makes information about  cyanobacteria especially important for recreational areas.

The data collected is being used for the development of early algae warning systems, calibration/validation of models, and comparison with algae concentrations obtained from satellite images and with an in-situ spectrometer. 

Pilot Projects with Water Authorities

INDYMO is always looking for new projects and pilots to test our drones, and to work on the development of better solutions that can applied in new applications. Select the tabs below (on the left) to learn more about some of the testing-pilots performed by INDYMO during the recent years. Most of these pilots where accomplished with the participation of water authorities, municipalities, universities, research institutes, and other companies from The Netherlands.

  • Salt Intrusion
  • Mussels in deep lakes
  • Tracking of polution sources
  • Culvert inspections
  • Efectiveness of measures
  • Water quality in lakes
  • Wetlands and filters
  • Urban farming (Aquaponics)
  • Eco-Monitoring in Fishways
  • Floating Gardens
  • Survey biodiversity Fauna/Flora
  • Mapping Water Quality (algae)
  • Mouth to Source Monitoring

​Termunterzijldiep, Groningen

Conductivity measurements in a canal with reported salt intrusion problems. A longitudinal profile of the variation of conductivity allowed to clearly visualize the variations in the salinity along a distance of 8km from the sea (dike) until a lake.


Sloterplas, Amsterdam

Research about the ideal conditions for the presence of mussels at Sloterplas, Amsterdam. The underwater drone was used to collect water quality data (e.g. dissolved oxygen) and to collect underwater images of the mussels laying on the bed of the lake. This was performed at several different regions of the lake, and at water depths reaching over 30m. The visual data was used to assess about the representativity of the samples collected with traditional methods.


Naaldwijk, Delft

​Surface water check, to search for possible polution sources or illicit discharges that could explain the poor water quality of the water system (very low dissolved oxygen concentration values).

Naaldwijk, Delft

Inspection of a culvert in a greenhouse area to search for illicit discharges or other possible causes for suspicious water quality parameters concentrations previously measured with grab samples by the water authority. Underwater drone succeeded in entering the culvert for up to 20m.

Floresvijver, Groningen

​​Assessment of the efectiveness of a fountain that was installed to stimulate the aeration of an eutrophicated pond in Groningen. For this, an underwater drone equipped with water quality sensors was used, allowing the collection of dissolved oxygen concentrations at several regions around the pond.


Zuidlaardermeer, Groningen

Water quality measurements in lakes with high turbidity, to infer about the possible causes, which could be due to high algae concentrations, or mostly due to inorganic sediments in suspension.


​Hoogeveen, Drenthe

Study of the effectiveness of selected parameters in large scale filters (Wetlands / Halophyte filters / Reed filters), and their spatial variation within the filter. Insight into the underwater life.



Monitoring of water quality parameters in tanks used to breed fish (catfish and telapia), and in the basin where vegetables are grown. Both the tanks and the basins are part of a cycle where the water is recirculated. The vegetables and algae remove the nutrients from the wastewater coming from the fish tanks, and then the purified water is pumped again to the fish tanks.

 Halfweg, Amsterdam ​The video below shows a pilot, where the underwater drone was used to monitor a fish passage.
Rotterdam ​(Prototype Urban Green) Underwater visual inspection of a floating garden, and water quality measurements in the surrounding water. This floating garden is the first prototype of the start-up Urban Green, and it was located at the RDM Campus, Rotterdam.

Rotterdam ​(Prototype Urban Green)



Urk, Zeewolde and Bovenwater, Flevoland

Underwater drones equiped with algae sensors can provide information about where concentrations are higher, and contribute for a better understanding of the dynamics of each water system affected by algae blooms problems. 

We performed measurements also during the night, to assess how algae travels through the water column.

Drenthe Region

With underwater drones it's possible to monitor along complete water systems, and get detailed information about how parameters vary with space and depth.

Projects with Universities of Applied Sciences

Indymo works with Universities of Applied Sciences in multiple projects and initiatives involving students. Usually the projects are multidisciplinary with students from different studies. An example is the  Aquabots project of Hogeschool Rotterdam (RDM Campus) where students work on the design and building of Autonomous Surface Drones (also underwater systems). These vessels are then used/tested by Indymo to perform water quality measurements.

Ecological Monitoring of Fjords in Denmark

  • Scans of Aquatic vegetation in Fjords with sonar imaging
  • Sampling of water and aquatic plants 
  • Measurements with underwater drones with multi-parameter water quality sonde
  • Survey of ecology using on underwater images 

Underwater Inspections

Underwater drones can provide unique visual insight into the condition of submerged civil construction works such as locks, quay walls or bridge foundations.

Indymo performed several inspections using underwater drones in combination with high resolution low-light cameras and sonar systems. 

News items about our projects