Document Type



The availability of historical flood data is vital in recognizing weather-related trends and outlining necessary precautions for at-risk communities. Flood frequency, magnitude, endurance, and volume are traditionally recorded using established streamgages; however, the material and installation costs allow only a few streamgages in a region, which yield a narrow data selection. In particular, stage, the vertical water height in a water body, is an important parameter in determining flood trends. This work investigates a low-cost, compact, rapidly-deployable alternative to traditional stage sensors that will allow for denser sampling within a watershed and a more detailed record of flood events. The package uses a HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor to measure stage, onboard memory for recording flood events, and an electropermanet magnet (EPM) to enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) deployments. Optional modules for solar panels and wireless communication can also be added to extend package longevity or allow wireless control of the EPM. The stage sensor package was found to have a range of 0.02 to 4 m with a 6.9 mm accuracy and capable of a 6.4 day long deployment. With the total cost of production at 271.37 USD, it is a cheaper and more flexible alternative to traditional stage sensors that will enable dense sensor networks and rapid response to flooding events.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

APA Citation

Smith, C., Satme, J., Martin, J., Downey, A., Vitzilaios, N., & Imran, J. (2022). UAV rapidly-deployable stage sensor with electro-permanent magnet docking mechanism for flood monitoring in undersampled watersheds. Hardwarex, 12, e00325.