With water scarcity and droughts becoming an ever-worrisome issue across the globe, protecting our existing water resources from contamination is now more important than ever. Part of how we ensure water quality is by collecting samples and testing them for contaminants. The goal is to do this frequently so that any risks are detected and mitigated before they become serious health hazards.

What may seem like a straightforward process is labor intensive, costly, and time consuming. Water quality scientists and specialists spend a significant amount of time traveling and collecting water samples for testing. With Nixie, a drone mounted water sampling and data collection system by Reign Maker, this process is being made significantly faster, efficient, and less labor intensive and complex.

With the Nixie attachment, which is secured to the bottom of a drone via a clamp (see above video), sampling rates were shown to increase by 75% while reducing costs by 90%. When looking at ways drones can improve our daily lives, demonstrating such a high level of efficiency and cost savings is incredibly powerful, especially for something as essential and universal as water quality. Seeing how these statistics can be translated to real life situations, makes these numbers even more meaningful:

“The New York City Department of Environmental Protection alone collects 14,000 water quality samples a year, collecting 30 samples a day using boats, captains, and a crew of three at an average cost of $100 per sample,” said Jessica Chosid, Founder and CEO of Reign Maker. “With Nixie, a crew of two can collect 120 samples in the same seven-hour shift, at a cost as low as $10 per dip.”

In order to ensure Nixie would be reliable, safe, versatile, and relatively easy to adopt, Reign Maker worked with DJI to make their system compatible with the M600 and M300 RTK drones, some of the most used platforms for commercial drone operations. 

“Nixie is a revolutionary system to accomplish a critical task better, easier, faster, more safely and more efficiently with drone technology, and DJI is proud that Reign Maker has developed it specifically for use with our premier drone platforms,” said James Thomas, Digital Lead, B2B, at DJI Enterprise. “We’re excited to see how our drone technology can help Nixie improve the safety and quality of drinking water sampling around the world.” 

Because drones are also collecting important time and location data, Nixie can sync with the drone and automatically log each sample, maintaining chain of custody and keeping historic GPS logs for accurate repeat sampling over time.

The capabilities of what Nixie can do will only improve as new iterations are released. The Nixie Advanced is already under development and will include “integrated hardware, sensor, software, data analysis, and a cloud-based management solution designed to efficiently enable water quality monitoring in-situ,” and they are also developing a worldwide water database that “will be updated in real-time for better global monitoring, management, and water resource protection by tracking naturally occurring events and artificial threats.”  

This level of data gathering about our world’s water supply will be invaluable as we continue to combat climate change and water scarcity around the world.