European research project SHOAL, managed by BMT Group, has developed intelligent robotic fish equipped with chemical sensors that can send real-time data about the pollution levels in ports and other aquatic areas.
Whereas current methods of pollution research involve taking samples of the water to a lab for testing and waiting for the results, these robots can provide the information almost immediately. The SHOAL fish can detect various forms of pollution, send data to researchers via wi-fi, and also interact with each other to provide a map of the problem and detect its source. They are fully automatic and when their batteries are low they return to a charging dock by themselves. Luke Speller, project leader of SHOAL and senior research scientist at BMT Group, said:
SHOAL has introduced the capability of cutting the detection and analysis of pollutants in sea water time from weeks to just a few seconds. 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. Furthermore, the Artificial Intelligence which has been introduced means that the fish can identify the source of pollution enabling prompt and more effective remedial action.