The above video shows an interesting new type of fish—one with a mission. Despite its impressive life-like movements, it is actually a robot prototype that has been developed by scientists and researchers at the University of Essex, England. It is still being perfected at the London Aquarium, with a number of the expensive fish (each at a cost around US $30,000) expected to be released off a port in Northern Spain in 2011.
Its realistic motions are the result of its electro-active polymer fins, which react to the voltage that flows through them. The fish are also equipped with chemical sensors, allowing them to scan the waters and collect information that will help create a better understanding of the changes affecting the seas and oceans. One specific target will be measuring the amount and the source of pollution in the water, such as from oil and chemical spills, which do great damage to the ecosystem. The fish will send out this data though the wireless transmitters installed in their bodies.
What is interesting is that its highly authentic appearance comes with both its positive and negative sides. At a length of a foot and a half, it closely resembles the common carp which it is modeled after, albeit with brighter colors that can be used to distinguish it from real fish. The robot blends in well with the surroundings without disrupting the environment, but concerns were it might suffer the fate of real fish as well. Because of that, it was designed with a tracking system which allows it to stay away from commercial fishing boats and other human obstacles. The electromagnetic field around its body also keeps large predators, like sharks, at bay, so hopes are it will not be mistaken for prey.