Image credit: Reuters
According to Spanish newspaper El País last weekend, British scientists have developed a 1,5 meter long robot fish that will swim around the Spanish north coast to detect contamination in the water. If the robot fish, released in the port of GijÃ³n in Asturias, Spain, will be successful in finding toxic spills, the team plans to use it in rivers, lakes and seas around the world. The robot fish resembles a carp, imitates the movement of a real fish but costs slightly more; some £20,000. The robot fish can swim at a speed of roughly 1 meter per second. Chemical sensors help find potential dangerous contaminants such as leakage from boats or underwater pipelines. Once found traces of pollutants, the robot fish send the information on by Wi-Fi. The difference between earlier models of robot fish is that this one doesn't need a remote control and swims independently. They will automatically visit the "charging hug" when their batteries run low, after more or less 8 hours.
All in all, the robot fish is a serious case of Biomimicry, where the solution is a fish, rather than a standard submarine. Rory Doyle, senior research scientist at BMT Group, described the project as a "world first", and explains:
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.
Professor Huosheng Hu and his robotics team at the University of Essex are building five fish, which they hope to release into the sea by the end of next year. The three-year research project is funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by BMT Group Ltd. Watch a video of the robot fish on National Geographic. Via ::El País ::BMT Robot Fish