I saw these robotic carp on the cover of today’s FT. Aside from looking scarily like the “Terror Fish” transport vessals of the Stingray villains the Aquaphibians this functional model looks splendid. Fortunately these fish will be using their powers for good, not evil:
Modelled on carp and costing about £20,000 ($29,000) each to make, the fish are to be lifelike in appearance and swimming behaviour so they will not alarm their fellow marine inhabitants.
The robots, the first of their kind, are equipped with tiny chemical sensors capable of detecting pollutants in the water. These let the fish home in on the sources of hazardous pollutants, such as leaks from vessels or undersea pipelines.
“Using shoals of robotic fish for pollution detection in harbours might appear like something straight out of science fiction [but] there are very practical reasons for choosing this form,” said Rory Doyle, senior research scientist at BMT Group. “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.
Each robotic fish is about 1.5 metres long and can swim at a maximum speed of about one metre per second. Whenever they find traces of pollutants, the fish can relay the information to the shore.