The RiverWatch project pairs an autonomous boat with an on-board hexacopter to monitor river environments. The team calls the marine-to-air duo “marsupial” because the hexacopter is able to use the boat as a “pouch”. The operation is powered by solar energy allowing it to function autonomously for long periods.

RIVERWATCH is an autonomous surface-aerial marsupial robotic team for riverine environmental monitoring. The robotic system is composed of an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) piggybacking a 6-rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. The ASV provides the team with long-range transportation in all-weather conditions, whereas the UAV provides the team with an augmented perception of the environment. The coordinated aerial, underwater, and surface level perception allows the team to assess navigation cost from the near field to the far field, which is key for safe navigation and environmental monitoring data gathering. RIVERWATCH started as an experiment within the ECHORD project (FP7-ICT-231143).