Digital divining rod: New drone tech accurately measures underground water volumes

A Swiss research group has developed a drone-carried sensor that can detect the water content of terrain below, and are offering it as a cheaper and more accurate measurement supplement to existing technology like satellite imagery. Its creators say the device can optimize a variety of terrain management decisions in a world where drought and fires are becoming a major, recurring problem.

Drone-toted sensor improves detection of underground water reserves

The invention is the result of work on radiometers that the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL has pursued since 1995. The new drone-fixed sensor uses a 21-cm wavelength L-band electromagnetic frequency that’s highly sensitive to water in liquid form it encounters. By flying the device above designated areas, its readings provide precise information on the abundance and distribution of water under the surface.  

Developers say the technology is ideal for irrigation and yield…