Eco robots – smart solutions to protect our environment

Project Overview

When you think of marine monitoring, you think of automated systems keeping us safe and monitoring the conditions of the water. But that currently isn’t the case. Right now, sampling water will only happen twice in a year by a group of volunteers who are willing to go out to all of the sites. This increases chances on potential environmental disasters as we just don’t have the data to see the trends. This is why RAS has developed a flotilla of robot boats. The robotic boats are designed to conduct a wide range of sampling and surveying tasks in inland waterways, including monitoring water quality; measuring gas emissions; inspecting jetties and dam walls; and mapping banks and lake-beds. It can work autonomously or under remote control from anywhere in the world.

Project Objectives

If deployed across our waterways, the autonomous vessels would vastly speed up the detection and responses to events, some of which could have serious environmental or public health implications. The Inference boats are designed to be our eyes, ears and nose on waterways, 24 hours a day – rain, hail or cyclone.

Equipped with cameras and various air and water sensors, the Inference boats mark the first time in the world that researchers can collect real-time data about the impacts of weather events across waterways, helping authorities better plan for similar events in the future.

When the situation if too dangerous for a human to be out in a boat during a cyclone, collecting water samples to measure the amount of topsoil washing into a lake, Inference can be deployed. Scientists the world over have had to rely on simulated and sparse data to predict, respond to and plan for events like cyclones – data that is not always completely accurate.

Inference is a game changer in terms of environmental research because it’s designed to be there on the water 24/7, a permanent sensing presence capturing the hard data researchers and authorities need to make the best-informed decisions.


Chief Investigators


Prototype of an eco-robot