New kite-driven robots that can monitor gas emissions – and which way the wind is blowing them – will be built at the University of Surrey, thanks to a £620,000 grant.  

The team will build new, lightweight wireless gas sensors attached to helium kites and flown by an autonomous robot.

Researchers hope the new devices will be able to monitor emissions. 

Dr Robert Siddall, lecturer in robotics, said: "If the world is to reach net zero, we need to be able to check that emissions really are reducing.

"Previous projects tried to use drones to monitor gas flux – but the quality of their measurements wasn't good.

"Our robot balloon towers, kitted out with sensors and built here at Surrey, should solve many of these challenges."

The technology will be tested in a variety of locations – including Thames Water treatment works, the university’s land at Blackwell Farm, Guildford, and rice paddies in Spain.