A collaborative scientific effort has tested pollution-detecting robotic fish off the coast of Spain. The Shoal project, which has been running for the past three years, recently announced that it successfully created a prototype that can swim around obstacles while gathering and mapping chemical traces of pollutants. The fish design is meant to both improve movement and let the robots blend into the environment; they were recently tested in the port of Gijon, Spain.
The ultimate goal is for a whole group of fish to be able to move through the water autonomously, detecting pollution with chemical sensors and then returning to a central charging hub to create a map. While away from the hub, the fish could communicate with each other using ultrasonics. This would give them an advantage over either divers who manually collect water samples or remote-controlled devices. While you can see one of the fish swimming below, and the team says the fish can successfully navigate and communicate with others, they're not yet ready for mass production. When they are, project leader Luke Speller says they could be used for more than just pollution: they could be equipped with cameras or other sensors and help with security or search and rescue missions.