SHOAL robotic fish

Shoal, a consortium of six European organisations, has developed a new robotic fish that can detect pollution in ports and harbours.

The robo-fish uses artificial intelligence to map where to go, collects and records samples, records the location of the samples and identifies their chemical composition, and communicates the information through shallow water to the base station on shore.

Part-funded by the European Union (EU), the research group includes BMT, the project leader and responsible for artificial intelligence, the University of Essex, responsible for robotic development, and the Tyndall National Institute, responsible for the chemical sensors.

The consortium also comprises of the University of Strathclyde, which is responsible for hydrodynamic research, while Thales Safare manages the communication network. The Port Authority of Gijon in Spain was the testing port.

BMT Group senior research scientist and project leader of Shoal Luke Speller said that 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," Speller said. "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."

Each robo-fish is fitted with a range of sensors that help it to safely navigate in the waters and it has been designed not to disturb other marine creatures.

The yellow-coloured robotic fish is 1.5m long and is powered by a battery that can run for up to eight hours before needing to be recharged.

Image: Shoal has developed each robo-fish with a range of sensors that helps it to safely navigate the waters and find pollution in ports. Photo: BMT