computer vision
sensor technology

Water Board Aa and Maas works with water 24 hours a day. They do that for about 778,000 residents and businesses and nature in the eastern part of Brabant. Every day the water board maintains and inspects dikes, purifies 300 million liters of water and ensures safe, sufficient and clean water.


In the waters of the Aa and Meuse rivers there is water pennywort, an invasive exotic species. Under the influence of summer conditions, the plant can form meters-long shoots of floating mats several centimeters thick from the banks that can completely cover watercourses. Water Board Aa and Maas was looking for a solution in which the plant can be detected at the earliest possible stage. The question was whether it is possible to use drone images to recognize water pennywort and what is needed to realize this?

The process

We already had experience with the MowHawk in detecting invasive exotic species on the roadside. Based on the same technology, we can use drone-generated video and GPS coordinates to perform image analysis of the water surface and then map it.


The data came from drone footage. We tested at different altitudes and from different angles to determine the ideal way to fly.


We developed a prototype capable of uploading and automatically storing video footage in the water board's cloud environment.


Water Board Aa and Maas is impressed with the quality of the detections during the pilot. Complications in further rolling out this system are that there are (currently) too few drone pilots available and that the Aa river basin crosses approach routes from Eindhoven airport, making drone flying difficult.

The result

With the prototype we developed, a drone can be put into production in the future that can detect large water pennywort and other invasive exotics at an early stage on the water's surface. This will allow the plants to be removed before they can spread further across the water surface and interfere with boat traffic or water recreation.