Perhaps robot fish make prime fodder for jokes, but humor aside, a team of British researchers is taking the idea of building robot fish very seriously. Their goal is to release the robot fish in the waters north of Spain and use them to monitor pollution levels.
The fish are roughly the size and shape of a carp. They mimic the movements of real fish to navigate the waters and they're equipped with high-tech chemical sensorous, which detect hazardous pollutants like oil leaks from vessels or underwater pipelines or mercury dumped in the water. The robots currently cost 20,000 pounds ($29,000 USD) a piece.
The fish transmit their collected data back to shore using a Wi-Fi link.
The really impressive feature of the 1.5 meter long fish (roughly the size of a seal) is that they can navigate autonomously. Previous models required a human operator at the remote controls, making them less practical.
Rory Doyle, senior research scientist at engineering company BMT Group says that when it comes to exploring the water and collecting data, fish-shaped robots have significant advantages over submarine-shaped designs. He states, "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."
The scientists are deploying five of the fish in the northern Spanish port of Gijon next year. If the fish hold up to the elements and prove their worth, they could soon be headed to rivers, lakes, and seas across the world, helping in the fight against pollution.
The fish do require a fair investment of money and resources, but ultimately they seem a good idea as they can help fight the accidental or intentional dumping of large quantities of chemicals into the sea, something that sadly occurs on a regular basis.
written by --Shian, March 25, 2009
written by Shian, March 25, 2009
written by Fred, July 13, 2009
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