Pilotless Drones Take Water Meter Reading To New Heights

By Eva Levin February 02, 2011 Comments

In countries where water demand is high but resource is low, every drop counts. An Israeli company, The Arad Group, has strived to prevent water leaks by perfecting manual methods of water measuring. Their recently developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is a two-pound drone plane that can travel 900 feet above ground and detect water leaks.

The UAV can collect data from water meters every 11 to 30 seconds and capture readings of a whole city in less than one hour. Arad is already deploying its UAV to the UK, India and the U.S.

In the U.S. only, a 2009 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers showed that seven billion gallons of water are lost due to leaky pipes daily.

Arad’s UAV serves as an alternative to instant water metering in neighborhoods where other types of automatic water measuring, such as the Fix Base method, are too expensive or difficult to implement.

Mobile metering units are not new – vehicle monitoring leaks in cities have been used in the U.S. for years, but these methods are labor-intensive and not cheap, Nissan Barkat of the Arad Group told NoCamels.

In Arad’s meter readings, an unusual but steady flow indicates a leak, while an unusually high rate can be a sign of water being stolen. The findings are then sent to repair departments of both private and public water companies, who send a crew out to repair the leak.

Since Israel is a semi-arid country that has to cope with water shortage issues every year, the implementation and need for innovative technologies are a necessity.

Arie Issar, professor at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at the Ben Gurion University in the Israel’s Negev desert, said the demand for water will grow in the country as the standard of living rises. “The decreasing precipitation in the region will also be more severe as the population in Israel and the Palestinian territories grows,” he added.

“Until recently, the consumption of water was mainly for drinking, the storage of water for dry years was not vital, except for the watering of herds” but it has gone beyond the need for domestic use, as water in Israel now largely goes towards irrigation.

The World Bank reported in March 2010 that about 700 million people in 43 countries are “under water stress”, emphasizing the global need to measure water leaks to further reduce water waste.

Photo Courtesy of Arad Technologies LTD

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