Innovation That Matters

Robot fish to monitor water health in fish farms


A team of researchers from the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Florence have developed a robot fish that tests water pH levels and moves like a real fish.

Robotic fish that monitor water are nothing new, a team in the UK developed these SHOAL robots a few years ago. But a team effort involving the Technical University of Madrid, the University of Florence and the Centre for Automation and Robotics (CAR CSIC-UPM – an organisation that sits between the Madrid university and the Spanish National Research Council) have developed a bio-inspired model that’s considerably more advanced. And should be a big help to the Aquaculture industry, which currently provides 50 percent of all seafood eaten and relies heavily on water being kept clean and healthy.

These autonomous robot fish use sensors to monitor the pH levels in areas of water and when they encounter parts that are overly acidic or poisonous, the fish’s swimming patterns will change while also signalling where the bad spot is.

“Thanks to this system that provides early information on environmental change, we can control the parameters of water quality and improve management decisions of fish farms, and consequently, the wellness of these animals,” said Claudio Rossi, a member of the development team.

The prototype fish is 30cm in length and is also bio-mimetic, so it not only looks like a fish but moves like a fish – it’s made from a shape memory alloy that flexes just like like a fish’s backbone. It’s hoped this will cause the fishes it interacts with less stress and maintain harmony in ecosphere in which they operate. The robotic fish is also sophisticated enough to dynamically alter the way it swims in varying water conditions.

With an ever growing world population needing more and more food, anything that helps supply meet demand is welcome. Another noted boost in the fish industry is Nordic Wildfish’s hydrolysis tech, which makes use of almost all the fish, hugely improving sustainability. And this robot sloth has been designed to assist in monitoring crops. What other areas of food production could be advanced with robotics?



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