Smart stone eyes coastal erosion

British scientists claim to have created what they believe is the world’s first intelligent pebble. The savvy stone has been developed to help researchers gain a better understanding of the processes which lead to coastal erosion or river flooding.

British scientists claim to have created what they believe is the world’s first intelligent pebble. The savvy stone has been developed to help researchers gain a better understanding of the processes which lead to coastal erosion and river flooding.

A prototype device has been tested and will soon start trials on a beach and in two rivers. The idea is that the pebble will signal its whereabouts, thus giving scientists a detailed history of its movements.

The research is being carried out at the universities of Southampton and Lancaster, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Researchers have developed the artificial pebble from a tough resin and contains a tiny microchip.

A grid of wires will be dug into the ground at the location being studied. The smart pebbles will then be placed in the water and electronic signals sent down the wires sequentially.

To retrieve the pebble a signal can be transmitted from the shore which is picked up by a tiny wire coil in the pebble, which then resonates at a specific frequency that can be detected.

Once the pebble is found a small cap on its side is removed the chip is plugged into a laptop PC so that data can be downloaded straight onto it. The pebble’s on-board microprocessor will have logged its precise movements during the time it spent under water