To the casual observer this may be a fish caught somewhere off the uncanny valley, but most fishes’ limited eyesight will mean that it slips by completely unnoticed as it goes about its business. And its business is detecting hazardous pollutants in the water off the coast of Spain.
They’ve been designed by a group of UK scientists with the intention of collecting data while not scaring the local aquatic life. They look like carp and move around realistically with a top speed of around 2.25mph. They cost £20,000 a-piece, but fortunately the designers from the University of Essex have found the European Commission happy to foot the bill.
So what do you get for your £20,000 (aside from the satisfaction that the waters are a safer place for the fishies?) Well, each robot has got autonomous navigation capabilities allowing them to swim without any human intervention and an eight hour battery life that puts my laptop to shame. When this is running low, their little fishy robot brains tell them to head straight back to the charging station, where they upload their data via Wi-Fi. If the trial of an initial five fish goes well, we’re expecting to see robo-fish across the world.
Here’s a video of them in action. My only concern is that a bigger fish may see them as ideal dinner material – and at £20,000 a head, it’s a little out of most recession-hit aquatic creatures’ lunch budgets.
(via The Register)