Pollution-hunting robot fish take to the sea

LONDON Tue May 22, 2012 11:45am IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - Robot "fish" developed by European scientists to improve pollution monitoring moved from the lab to the sea in a test at the northern Spanish port of Gijon on Tuesday.

The developers hope the new technology, which reduces the time it takes to detect a pollutant from weeks to seconds, will sell to port authorities, water companies, aquariums and anyone with an interest in monitoring water quality.

It could also have spin-offs for cleaning up oil spills, underwater security, diver monitoring or search and rescue at sea, they said.

The fish, which are 1.5 metres (5 feet) long and currenly cost 20,000 pounds each, are designed to swim like real fish and are fitted with sensors to pick up pollutants leaking from ships or undersea pipelines.

They swim independently, co-ordinate with each other, and transmit their readings back to a shore station up to a kilometre away.

"Chemical sensors fitted to the fish permit real-time, in-situ analysis, rather than the current method of sample collection and dispatch to a shore based laboratory," said Luke Speller, a scientist at British consultancy BMT Group who led the project.

The fish can avoid obstacles, communicate with each other, map where they are and know how to return to base when their eight-hour battery life is running low, their makers say.

After the tests this week, the team will look at modifications needed to move the fish into commercial production, which they expect to reduce the cost of each unit.

The development project was part-funded by the EU and drew on expertise from the University of Essex and the University of Strathclyde in Britain, Ireland's Tyndall National Institute and Thales Safare, a unit of Europe's largest defence electronics group, Thales (TCFP.PA), which was responsible for the communication technology.

(Reporting by Chris Wickham; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Putin Critic Killed

Putin Critic Killed

Russians march in memory of murdered Putin critic.  Full Article 

Pakistan's First Win

Pakistan's First Win

Irfan bounces Zimbabwe out as Pakistan claim first win.  Full Article 

Budget 2015

Budget 2015

Full coverage of 2015/16 budget.  Full Coverage 

Hacked to Death

Hacked to Death

Bangladesh pays tribute to U.S. blogger killed in machete attack.  Full Article 

The Apple Car

The Apple Car

Apple car rumours fuel Geneva debate about car of future.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Dum Laga Ke Haisha" is rooted in reality, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article | Related Story 

Crowded Market

Crowded Market

China's Huawei enters smartwatch frenzy with round-face models.  Full Article 

Lathmar Holi

In Pics: Lathmar Holi

Images of "Lathmar Holi" at Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh.  Full Coverage 

World Cup 2015

World Cup 2015

Full coverage of cricket world cup in Australia and New Zealand.  Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage