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Water robotic-fish1

Published on March 19th, 2009 | by Andrew Williams

29

Robotic Fish Created to Tackle Water Pollution

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March 19th, 2009 by  

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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.”

Image Credit – BMT Group

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About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.



  • tori

    did you not think of the bigger fish that eat smaller fish or sharks? if they eat these fish it could hurt them! u not only need to think about the pollution but also how it would effect the surronding fish as well!

  • Joshua Pugh

    The idea behind this gaget is good but the off color may tirgger fish in curiasity trust me I’m a fisherman thrugh and thrugh and the fact that thers ALWAYS a bigger fish is a bit of an issue to me becase in trying to solve an enviremental problem they may create another hazerd to the sealife it might not be to much of an issu in fresh water IF it’s large enof to keep muski pike and big largemouth bass from munching a few. P.S I can’t spell at all : )

  • Jonathan EW

    People, relax. The fish are big — about a meter long. Nothing’s going to eat them.

  • Jonathan EW

    People, relax. The fish are big — about a meter long. Nothing’s going to eat them.

  • Sally

    it isn’t mentioned in the article but the actual fish are not the pretty fish which are pictured but will be about 1.5m long. So other than perhaps great white sharks there are not many preditors which would be capable of eating a giant mechanical fish even if they wanted to.

  • Sally

    it isn’t mentioned in the article but the actual fish are not the pretty fish which are pictured but will be about 1.5m long. So other than perhaps great white sharks there are not many preditors which would be capable of eating a giant mechanical fish even if they wanted to.

  • gabriel

    What a completely idiotic idea. This stuff will become just more mobile litter.

    These things will kill fish that ingest them.

    How completely retarded.

  • gabriel

    What a completely idiotic idea. This stuff will become just more mobile litter.

    These things will kill fish that ingest them.

    How completely retarded.

  • Duane

    Robot fish will need a defense mechanism to avoid consumption by larger fish. Article claims that natural evolution has designed the propulsion body movement of a real fish to be very efficient….am not too sure about that claim. It would seem that normal means of mechanical propulsion could be more efficient. Can you believe these guys get paid to make this stuff?

  • Duane

    Robot fish will need a defense mechanism to avoid consumption by larger fish. Article claims that natural evolution has designed the propulsion body movement of a real fish to be very efficient….am not too sure about that claim. It would seem that normal means of mechanical propulsion could be more efficient. Can you believe these guys get paid to make this stuff?

  • nix

    @Cyza

    The fish do not capture or contain the pollution, they swim around and measure it.

    But yeah, it does have what seems to be pretty blatant flaws.

  • nix

    @Cyza

    The fish do not capture or contain the pollution, they swim around and measure it.

    But yeah, it does have what seems to be pretty blatant flaws.

  • http://cyza.us Cyza

    There surely are several issues here:

    1. The decision on the almost fish like shape.

    2. The battery length.

    3. Types and categories of pollution it can contain.

    4. What if the stomach is already full with pollutants?

    5. What are the cost?

  • http://cyza.us Cyza

    There surely are several issues here:

    1. The decision on the almost fish like shape.

    2. The battery length.

    3. Types and categories of pollution it can contain.

    4. What if the stomach is already full with pollutants?

    5. What are the cost?

  • Leo G

    I wonder what the fisherman who catches one these would say when it shows up in one of his nets…

    Would he/she cook it?

  • Brennan

    Yeah Nix I was wondering the same thing about another fish eating it or even if it gets caught up in rocks, coral, or just junk floating around. Either way it is pretty cool.

  • Brennan

    Yeah Nix I was wondering the same thing about another fish eating it or even if it gets caught up in rocks, coral, or just junk floating around. Either way it is pretty cool.

  • Andrew S.

    So what happens when a bigger fish eats these? will it be like swallowing a hunk of plastic or getting wrapped in a six pack holder. Will fish die because of these?

    Is it really a good idea?

  • Andrew S.

    So what happens when a bigger fish eats these? will it be like swallowing a hunk of plastic or getting wrapped in a six pack holder. Will fish die because of these?

    Is it really a good idea?

  • Nicole Z

    Yes, what if these robotic fish are eaten by bigger fish?

  • Nicole Z

    Yes, what if these robotic fish are eaten by bigger fish?

  • http://www.bryan.theloars.com Bryan Loar

    I hope their batteries don’t leak.

  • http://www.bryan.theloars.com Bryan Loar

    I hope their batteries don’t leak.

  • http://yahoo.com RT

    How can fishermen catch one of these, with a lure shaped like an oil can?

  • http://yahoo.com RT

    How can fishermen catch one of these, with a lure shaped like an oil can?

  • Amanda F

    I agree with Nix. While a robotic fish looks cool, I wonder if the design could have been a little less obvious….Something to blend in with the surroudings rather than look like food. Was there a reason they chose the fish?

  • Amanda F

    I agree with Nix. While a robotic fish looks cool, I wonder if the design could have been a little less obvious….Something to blend in with the surroudings rather than look like food. Was there a reason they chose the fish?

  • nix

    I wonder if they will be shocked an surprised when something tries and eats these things.

  • nix

    I wonder if they will be shocked an surprised when something tries and eats these things.

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