Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Nikolaos Vitzilaios


At present, aerial drones, also known as Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are increasingly used in time and effort-heavy scientific exploration applications. One such application is inspecting the physical, chemical, and biological state of water bodies. This thesis presents a novel autonomous system capable of sensing water properties and collecting up to three 250 mL water samples from multiple sampling locations. The system features a customized aerial drone with an in-house built fluorescence sensor and pumping mechanism. It can also map the gradient of fluorescent content across the body of water to determine the best sampling spot and perform targeted sampling based on in situ fluorescence measurements. Multiple sensor fusion with an Extended Kalman Filter has been implemented for better altitude estimation within 1.5 m from the water surface, and a failsafe routine has been designed to ensure safe near-water operation. The system’s performance has been experimentally validated in three different water environments, namely the A.C. Moore Garden Pond, Columbia, SC; Congaree River, SC and Lake Wateree, SC.


© 2023, Kazi Ragib Ishraq Sanim