A team of UK scientists have developed a shoal of robotic fish, which will soon be released into the sea to detect water pollution.
The robots (video), shaped like Carp, will be set free off the coast of Gijon in northern Spain. If the trial proves successful, the fish could be used in rivers, lakes and seas across the world.
The creatures, which mimic the undulating movement of real fish, feature tiny chemical sensors to locate the source of potentially hazardous pollutants in the water, such as leaks from vessels in the port or underwater pipelines.
Using Wi-Fi, they can communicate data to the port’s control centre via a “charging hub” (where the fish can also charge their batteries), enabling real-time mapping of the source and scale of the pollution.
The fish are also equipped with autonomous navigation capabilities, meaning they can swim independently around the port without any human interaction. They can also return automatically to their hub to be recharged when battery life is low.
Speaking about the project Rory Doyle, senior research scientist at BMT Group, said, “While using shoals of robotic fish for pollution detection in harbours might appear like something straight out of science fiction, there are very practical reasons for choosing this form.”
“In using robotic fish we are building on a design created by hundreds of millions of years’ worth of evolution which is incredibly energy efficient. This efficiency is something we need to ensure that our pollution detection sensors can navigate in the underwater environment for hours on end.”
Author: A. Williams