22/05/2012 06:29 BST

Robot Fish That Detects Pollution Takes To The Sea

Scientists have been making waves in the field of pollution detection recently – with the development of robotic fish capable of sniffing out harmful chemicals in the sea.

On Tuesday one of the machines, built and designed by European researchers, took to the water in the Spanish port of Gijon for testing.

Measuring five feet in length, it can map where it is, where it needs to go, what samples it has taken, where from and what the chemical composition of the samples are - as well as communicating all of this back through shallow water to a base station.

The team behind the project – called SHOAL - which includes scientists from BMT Group, the University of Essex, University of Strathclyde and Thales Safare, claim the robot fish will cut the detection of pollution from weeks to just seconds.

Luke Speller, project leader 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.”

The team emphasised that the robotic fish – worth £20,000 each - have been developed to blend into the marine environment and not disrupt aquatic life.