The 1.5 meter long robotic fish each requires about $30,000 to make. Their purpose is to head out into the open water, take in data about water pollutants, return to a charging station about every 8 hours and while charging, submit data about water quality. The hope is that they'll lead to early detection of pollution sources such as leaks in underwater pipelines.
The issues with this first batch of fish is pretty clear - they're way too expensive to be made in numbers big enough to be very helpful; their charge lasts just 8 hours so they aren't able to have a very large range away from their charging stations; they run a pretty good risk of getting a bite taken out of them.
And yet, when it comes to monitoring our ocean's health, it's tough not to want to see a device that can be part of the environment while helping us to save it. The researchers think so too, and if the tests of the first 5 of these fish in the waters off Spain go well, they hope they'll be used in rivers, lakes and oceans worldwide.
I don't know about you, but I want one!
Hat tip: About a Boy and His Briefs