Researchers at Essex University have been awarded a share of a £2.5m grant to develop robotic fish that can function independently and as part of a team to analyse and monitor pollution in a port.
Prof Huosheng Hu from the university’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering will lead the Essex robotics team, joined by Dr John Gan and Dr Dongbing Gu.
The fish will be equipped with chemical sensors to find pollutants in the water, so can analyse contaminants in ports and produce a real-time 3D map of the port, showing what concentrations of pollutants are present and where.
They will be designed to adapt quickly to changes in the port environment, with advanced swarm-intelligence techniques used to control and co-ordinate them.
Hu said: ‘We will develop a team of robotic fish to search and analyse chemicals on the surface of the water such as oil, as well as those dissolved in the water.’
The technology developed will enable a port authority to monitor pollution from ships, as well as other types of harmful contaminants and pollutants from underwater pipelines. In addition, the project should lead to important advances in robotics, chemical analysis, underwater communications and robot intelligence.
This research is part of the ‘SHOAL’ project, which involves six partners from four European countries and has been backed by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme Theme 3-ICT.