A new approach to surface water analysis

An innovative system for detecting the pollution of environmental waters (rivers, lakes, seas) that allows, thanks to the use of a drone and the analysis of the air on the free surface of the water, to have information in real time increasing the practicality of the procedure.

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The problem

Environmental protection is one of the most discussed issues in recent years and the need for action to slow or stop the degradation of the planet is now evident. One aspect to pay particular attention to is definitely clean water as it is the basis of our life. This is also sanctioned by the UN 2030 Agenda, in particular by points 6 (“Clean water and sanitation“) and 13 (“Fight against climate change“).
An important part of this process is knowledge of the current pollution of water resources, such as rivers, lakes and seas. Currently, however, the analysis of the same is technologically backward: to know the state of the water it is necessary to go on site and take a sample through telescopic rods or boats and then wait a couple of days for its analysis in a specialized laboratory. This, in addition to an objective inconvenience, causes a delay in the knowledge of the health status of a resource with respect to the sampling and involves huge costs for constant monitoring of the same as each substance detected needs a specific reagent.

Our solution

The analysis system conceived by us and exposed here wants to revolutionize the current protocol, introducing where necessary various benefits given by new analysis techniques and the aid of technology, but still maintaining some procedures currently in use.
In fact, our solution wants:

  • reduce the inconvenience caused by the use of telescopic rods or boats by using instead a drone equipped with three armaments, thus also making it possible to analyze resources in places that are difficult to reach by man;
  • reduce the waiting time between sampling and receipt of the result by the laboratory thanks to the analysis of the free surface of the water (i.e. the air immediately above the level of the water resource) by means of a control unit capable of instantly return a general assessment of the water (polluted or unpolluted);
  • reduce to a minimum, and only when necessary, the use of in-depth laboratory analyzes, thus significantly reducing the cost of the analysis;
  • reduce the errors given by the variability of the parameters in space thanks to the use of GPS technology able to position the drone exactly in the same point previously analyzed.


The first of the three armaments available for the drone allows you to carry out a first patrol of the affected area with an infrared camera. This can highlight the temperature differences present in the resource to identify interesting areas, for example significantly warmer areas, on which to then carry out the analysis. The same is also able to detect the presence of some gases in the vicinity of the water to have more points to analyze.

Aerial patrol
Unpolluted river infrared vision


The second armament is instead the main innovation that our device wants to bring to the world of environmental analyzes. This makes it possible to know immediately if the analyzed water is or is not polluted. This is possible by analyzing the free surface of the water, that is the air immediately above the level of the water resource, with a control unit capable of measuring seven different parameters and then having the analyzes processed by a program created by us based on the tests carried out.

River analysis
Drone with detection equipment


The third and final armament of the solution proposed here is used only in case of need. This allows you to collect a water sample to be analyzed in the laboratory and is used only if the processing of the data collected with the previous armament highlights the presence of a polluted resource.

Sample collection

About us

Team group photo

We are seven boys and two professors from the “Beata Vergine di San Luca” Salesian Institute, located in Bologna (Italy).
At the end of 2020 we carried out the “Sniffatore” project for participation in a national robotics competition. Once the competition was over, however, we did not stop and we decided to complete the realization of our idea in order to make it really usable.
Throughout the engineering process, the support of the Skyte company, now our partner, proved to be fundamental, providing us with all the information necessary to be able to operate with its devices.

Salesians’ Bologna logo Skyte’s logo
Read our story


Would you like more information about the functioning of our invention or take advantage of our service? Come and visit us at MakerFaire from 8 to 10 October 2021 (stand J2.12) or contact us, we will be happy to meet your needs.

Prof. referent

Ing. Elio Lanzoni


Ing. Andrea Lunghi