If you happen to be in the area of the Spanish port of Gijon in the near future and you notice some awkward fish in the water, don't be alarmed. What you're seeing might be robotic creatures that are designed to test the water for pollutants, reducing the amount of time it takes to survey large bodies of water from weeks to just seconds. British consultancy group BMT Group, which is at the helm of the project, hopes to sell the fish to local port authorities.
The company is also eyeing water utility companies as well as large-scale aquariums, researchers, and anyone else who might have a vested interest in cleaning up nature's precious resource. They swim just like real fish but are equipped with sensors that can pick up pollutants, and then transmit relevant data up to a couple miles away. Although each fish swims independently and autonomously, they do communicate with one another to avoid redundancy.
"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 BMT Group scientist Luke Speller. Their release into a sea at Gijon marks the first time they have been taken out of a laboratory environment. Anyone curious in buying one will have to have deep pockets, though. An individual pollution-tracking robot fish costs $31,600.