By Ian Williams
Daniel Squire was just a young lad when he took the controls of his first remote-controlled plane – an experience that triggered a life-long passion.
Now the 29-year-old Adelaide process technician is combining his expertise in little flying machines with his work in the water industry to launch an innovative new business.
Drones Over Water taps into the latest drone technology to collect and test potentially hazardous water samples from even the most difficult to reach watercourses.
He’s built a prototype flying laboratory capable of travelling to a pre-determined GPS position to collect a sample from a specific depth and run a series of tests.
“It’s capable of doing some of the key analysis with the data stored on the drone, and we are also planning to make the information accessible live and remotely while it is still in the air,” says Daniel.
“The technology has major safety benefits and can eliminate the requirement of putting people in dangerous situations to sample contaminated or hard to access waters.”
Daniel’s goal of attracting investors and taking the technology into commercial development has been boosted after winning international recognition.
Drones Over Water is a graduate of Flinders University’s New Venture Institute and last year Daniel won a scholarship for a US tour to meet other entrepreneurs and potential business partners.
A highlight of the tour was the opportunity to pitch his idea at the South by South West (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin, Texas where Drones Over Water won the prize for best hardware start-up.
“This helped create some leads and I’ve been talking to lot of different people, including companies and a couple of universities,” says Daniel. “It’s encouraging but you have to be patient because you end up on a lot of empty roads that take a long time to go down.”
Various industries could benefit from the drone technology, including water utilities, mining companies and environmental and emergency services involved in managing chemical spills.
While Drones Over Water becomes established, Daniel continues to work fulltime with SA Water at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant.