Carnegie Mellon Researchers Use Autonomous Airboats To Monitor Hippo Dung in Kenya’s Mara River Basin

Small, autonomous airboats, disguised to look like crocodiles, helped scientists measure water quality this spring in Kenya’s Mara River. An estimated 4,000 hippos use the river as a toilet with potentially deadly effects for fish living downriver.
The airboats, developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and operated by a CMU spinoff, Platypus LLC, skimmed over the surface of several hippopotamus pools in the river, where they scanned the river bottom for deposits of hippo dung and made various measurements of water quality.