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Another fish swims into the robot pool

Michigan State University researchers are developing robot fish to monitor the effect of harmful algae on freshwater ecosystems.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers are spawning robot fish to monitor the quality of lake water and the effect of harmful algae.

The prototype fish resemble other robot fish, such as those being developed at MIT to check for pollutants in water.

An electric charge in the 9-inch MSU prototype causes its polymer fins to bend so the robotic perch can maneuver. Designs call for onboard sensors to record temperature, oxygen, pollutant, and algae data, which would be relayed to a docking station when the fish surfaces. GPS systems and infrared sensors could be developed to aid navigation.

The fish are designed to be low-cost for applications such as monitoring aquafarms and water reservoirs. Compared with water sampling by humans, the robo-fish would provide a more regular data feed by communicating with each other and their docking station.

The MSU researchers hope to make the robot more robust so it can swim through currents. Currently it can only move through calm water.