Photos courtesy of Arad Technologies LTD
Arad Group, owned by two agricultural communes in northern Israel, has invented a fly-by solution in the form of an airborne drone that quickly sizes up water meters and identifies leaks in the system. It could save up to 20% of the city of New York’s lost water from going down the drain.
According to Arad, the drone is completely GPS self-guided, and captures consumption data and information on theft, tampering, leaks and stuck meters from the company’s patented water-meter system. The drone is battery-powered and constructed of lightweight carbon fiber.
You can launch it with by hand and it returns via parachute. Arad calls it “powerful weaponry for water preservation.”
The company has recently made a sale in Texas and is in contact with many cities in America, India and the UK about the widespread deployment of its two-pound drone plane, monitored by a technician and a laptop. It can fly up to 900 feet above ground and detect leaks from the air.
Affluent regions and gated communities in America already use mobile units attached to vehicles to measure possible leaks in private homes. In some places, people with monitors walk the streets at night to pick up signals. However, this approach is labor-intensive, some of us don’t appreciate a lurking vehicle or person in our private communities, and estimates aren’t as accurate as they could be because of the lag time between reports, Arad Group CEO Dan Winter, tells ISRAEL21c.
As explained by Fast Company:
“Arad’s system is built around what looks like a standard meter. The difference is on the inside, where you’ll find 3G wireless technology, a microcontroller, and 20-year batteries.
Every 11 to 30 seconds, the system transmits data, which can be picked up by a drone (best for quickly covering big distances in remote areas) or by a drive-by or fixed-base reader. The data are then analyzed by computer to gauge how much water has been consumed, how much was lost, and even where tampering may have taken place. As a result, companies can save both water and man hours.”
Its largest cluster of clients is in the United States, and its next four biggest markets are now Brazil, China, India, and Russia — a quartet of emerging powers that suggests the size of both the problem and Arad’s ambition.
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Bought by utilities companies and installed citywide, “Our system actually sees the leaks,” Winter says. “It’s a water meter detector with a leak-detecting alarm inside the meter. Transmitting every 11 seconds, when the drone flies over the area, it can pick up leak alarms.”
The possibilities for Arad’s services go far beyond water. Winter sees potential for monitoring everything from municipal infrastructure, such as traffic lights, to security-camera networks — basically any complex system prone to localized failures and waste. And if Arad has its way, drones could soon be associated with saving, not destroying; life.
The drone can fly for about 90 minutes before it needs recharging and can be used for other practical purposes as well. Once it has monitored the water pipes in your neighborhood or condo, it can be fitted with a camera and sent out to take pictures of traffic jams.
“You could take it to places where there have been accidents, or to monitor traffic jams when you want to know the reason,” says Winter, noting that the drone can also be used for security surveillance in gated communities, when homeowners are absent for extended periods of time.
Last year Arad Group, founded in 1941, sold over $100 million in water meters, and signed a contract to supply the Indian city of Mumbai with water meters. More and more countries are now aware that water supplies and the energy needed to create them are not unlimited.
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