Fake fish could tell us when we're polluting faster than we'd ever detect ourselves
One of the easiest ways to detect otherwise unseen underwater pollution in our lakes and oceans is to monitor the animal life. Sometimes subtle changes in fish population can signal a greater problem that demands immediate attention. Not content to let living creatures be our canaries in the coal mine, a British firm named BMT is heading a project to create robotic fish that will monitor water quality at a fraction of the cost of human divers.
Called SHOAL fish, the aquatic robots are roughly the size of a large tuna, and are designed to move and act much like a living ocean fish. The SHOAL contain a litany of on-board censors that can detect chemical leakage and other man-made environmental hazards. One one of the robots finds something suspicious, it alerts port authorities who can quickly respond and — in theory — remove the source of the pollution.
The SHOAL bots — which are covered in an ornate and colorful casing and can be easily spotted when on the surface — will work in groups to cover large bodies of water. Currently, only prototype models of the SHOALs exist, but if they ever reach mass production, their first testbed will be Spanish port of Gijon. From there, who knows — you might see these flashy fish patrolling our own ports before too long.
[Image credit: SHOAL]
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