We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Pollution, Beware: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Robot Fish!

By Rachel Cernansky
Mar 19, 2009 9:22 PMNov 5, 2019 8:48 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

It looks like a carp, swims like a carp, and may even smell like a carp. But a fish being released into the waters of northern Spain is really a pollution-detecting robot. Scientists in the U.K. have developed a robotic fish with tiny chemical sensors that detect potentially hazardous pollutants in the water. Researchers plan to release the fish into the water by the end of next year, and if the first batch of five is successful, they hope to use the fish to detect pollution—both on the surface as well as dissolved—in water systems around the world. At 1.5 meters in length, the fish will be about the size of a seal, and will swim and wriggle just like real fish, at a maximum speed of about one meter per second. Unlike other robotic fish that are operated by remote control, the robot fish will be able to navigate autonomously, swimming through port areas and transmitting information via Wi-Fi to a control center. It will even know when it has to go back and recharge, so it won't be left stranded by a dead battery. Researchers will then use the data to map the source and scale of the pollution, which could include leaks from vessels or underwater pipelines. And needless to say, leaks are most easily fixed when caught early. Maybe air pollution-detecting robotic birds are up next? Related Content: Discoblog: In Japan, a Robot Works the Catwalk Discoblog: “Sweating Robot” Built to Test High-Tech Athletic Gear Discoblog: Washing Pollution Away with Golden Showers

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.