Section 200: Robots, Sensors, and Smart Water

Project: Learn how to address the world’s biggest water challenges through sensors, data, and autonomous technologies. Also…go outdoors, and work on real water systems.

In this era of self-driving cars, what role can technologies play in our management of water systems? In this class, we’ll learn how to build water systems that can “feel and think”, which will transform how some of society’s biggest challenges are solved.

While some parts of the world are struggling with flooding – the leading cause of natural disaster fatalities – other regions are facing devastating droughts. Pollutants are washed off from land during storms, ending up in lakes, rivers, and oceans, and causing environmental problems, such as algal blooms. Simultaneously, even drinking water systems are facing challenges, such as those seen in Flint, Michigan. Novel solutions are needed to transform how these difficult water challenges are addressed.

Through this class, you will not only learn about technology (sensors, robots, etc.), but will also study fundamental water processes (flow, quality, weather, etc.). Projects will span a verity of topics, including storm water, ecosystem health, drinking water, and resource recovery. We will go outside and build and deploy smart water systems, including:

  • Robotic boats that autonomously measure water quality
  • “Smart” watersheds that use sensors and valves to reduce flooding and improve water quality
  • Sensors in buildings that track water quality, send out alerts, and ensure sustainable water use
  • Smart agricultural irrigation widgets that save water and help grow crops

Real-world examples: