SHOAL robotic fish are under development for pollution monitoring; the intent is to create fishbots that work together using chemical sensors.
How do the fish work together?
The fish work together much like a group of people would work together to accomplish a task. If you were trying to accomplish a task everyone in the group knows something about the situation, through talking they are able to share information and while not everyone knows everything that is going on they are still able to accomplish the task between them. Likewise the fish do not all know the whole picture of the pollution but between them they know much more and through the communication they are able to work together.
How Do the fish see?
The fish 'see' though sonar and an array of other devices to measure their position, heading, speed etc. The sonar allows them to see obstacles and get a picture of what's around them. They augment this with other data they have such as maps, Infrared and other sensors to build a bigger picture of their surroundings.
Why a fish?
The choice of a robotic fish is not an aesthetic one but a design choice. The design of a robotic fish is a very manoeuvrable, efficient, low noise solution. The robotic fish have an incredibly small turning circle allowing them to navigate quickly in ports both to find pollution and avoid ships and the port infrastructure. It's also low noise so as to not disturb the environment when outside of busy ports.
Won't Fisherman catch the fish or people steal them?
The fish are able to detect where they are with the array of sensors they have . As soon as they are removed from the water they set off a distress beacon that alerts the port authorities who can act immediately.
Won't they Run out of Batteries
No, the fish are able to return to a base station and autonomously charge themselves (another challenge for the AI and engineering team).
How do the Fish Talk?
The Fish will talk to each other using ultrasonic communications. Other these we can send short messages between the fish and to the base station.
How much does a Fish Cost?
The current Generation of robotic fish cost about £20,000, this is just for this fish and the current fish is smaller than the new generation of fish. As the project continues we will get a better estimate of the price of a fully intelligent robotic fish.