Welcome to the research project website for Drones for Lake Sampling.

This Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland funded research assessed the potential of drones to take water samples and physico-chemical data from open lakes. A multi-national, multi-disciplinary research team comprising researchers from the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre (MFRC), Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway City, industry experts Model Heli Services (MHS), county Clare and researchers from the Jensen Lab, University of Wisconsin, USA were involved in the collaboration.

Key research successes

The project team are the first research team in Ireland and Europe to capture a 2 litre water sample using a drone. This research has made several significant contributions towards the advancement and application of drone water sampling methods. These include:

  • The successful deployment, as demonstrated during field trials, of a drone and attached payload capable of capturing a 2 litre water sample and real-time physico-chemical data, 100 metres offshore from open lakes in the west of Ireland.
  • Water sampling times using the drone were 4 minutes and water volume capture rates were 100 percent.
  • Drone water sampling was found to be 2.3 – 3.4 times faster than boat sampling methods, depending on resource allocation.
  • In contrast however, the capital investment costs for boat sampling were found to be 1.2 – 1.5 times cheaper than those required for drone water sampling.
  • Despite the cost differential, drones water sampling reduced the health and safety and biosecurity risks associated with boat sampling.

Overall, the application of drone water sampling for large scale water sampling programmes has been successfully demonstrated and can be adapted as needed to aquatic environments worldwide.

Information will be added on a regular basis to update readers on project developments and on relevant information surrounding the topic. Stay in contact through our twitter page.

We look forward to engaging with you

This project was funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of co-ordinating and promoting environmental research.

  • EPA Research logo

Project Collaborators

Header photo: Lough Nafooney

Header photo credit: Heather Lally

DISCLAIMER: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the material contained in this website, complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the authors accept any responsibility whatsoever for loss or damage occasioned or claimed to have been occasioned, in part or in full, as a consequence of any person acting or refraining from acting, as a result of a matter contained in this website.