Originally published Monday, April 16, 2018 at 05:54a.m.

PHOENIX (AP) – The Salt River Project is turning to robots and drones to maintain its 131 miles of irrigation canals connected by more than 1,000 miles of lateral ditches and pipes.

KJZZ-FM reports Mike Ploughe, a senior scientist with the Salt River Project water quality and waste management services, says robots will make the operation work a lot more efficiently, as opposed to using resources to dispatch individuals, their trucks and equipment, to a remote location.

Assistant professor Wenlong Zhang and his team from Arizona State University's Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory are working on a quadcopter that will fly itself to assigned locations, observe and await orders from operators.

The unmanned aerial vehicle may one day autonomously inspect remote areas and collect samples using an onboard soft grasper.

– Information from: KJZZ-FM, http://www.kjzz.org/