The water in Gijon, a harbor in Northern Spain will be monitored by robotic, battery-powered fish. These mechanical, articulating sea creatures were designed and tested by the Robotics Department at the University of Essex. At a cost of $3.6 million, through a European Union grant, these fish will test the water for oxygen levels, detect oil slicks and other contaminants pumped into the water. This is the first monitoring program of it’s kind, and the retrieved data could be very important, with implications for global warming and the state of our water sources.
Researchers at Essex have been testing out their fish prototypes in a special tank at the London Aquarium since 2005. Visitors have been wowed by the incredible ability of the robots to move just like a fish does. As Rory Doyle, a researcher on the project, says, “The design of fish which nature has produced is a very energy-efficient one. The fish’s efficiency is created by hundreds of millions of years’ of evolution. Submarines come nowhere near it.” This efficiency in movement will allow the robot to have a longer battery life and collect more data.