The SHOAL project develops robotic fish to help keep our waters clean!
SHOAL is a European research project that aims to produce a network of robotic fish to monitor pollution in aquatic environments.The project is being lead by BMT Group with support from several European universities and institutions which are focused on 5 specific aspects of SHOAL development:
The BMT Group will focus on the development of Artificial Intelligence for the robots. This will involve the development of intelligence for individual fish as well the development of swarm intelligence so that various fish will be able to function as a network. To accomplish this, researchers will apply two different types of biologically inspired algorithms. The robots must be able to quickly adapt to any changes in their environment much the way groups of foraging ants do, thus, one of the algorithms used is based on Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO) while the other algorithm, Particle Swarm Optimisation (PSO), is based on the behaviour of flocks of birds or schools of fish.
Responsible for robotic development, the team at the University of Essex has been working with other technical partners to come to ensure that every component of each robot is optimally designed.
The Tyndall National Institute is in charge of developing chemical sensors for the robots. They plan to develop instruments such as oxygen and nutrient sensors that go far beyond the state of the art by making them suitable for real world application as opposed to simple lab trials.
The University of Strathclyde will handle hydrodynamic research. Their work will ensure that the robots’ mobility and locomotion will be optimal and they will also produce models to further understand how pollution spreads in underwater environments.
Thales Safare, which specialises in acoustic and communication products will be responsible for producing the special equipment the robots will need to interact with each other underwater while reporting back to land in real time.
Water pollution is something that costs everyone a lot. Currently, levels of pollutants in harbors are only measured about once a month through a expensive and time consuming procedures. Researchers working on SHOAL hope that these types of robots might encourage a more proactive approach to water pollution “The idea is that we will use robot fish, which are in the harbour all of the time, and constantly checking for pollution,” explains Luke Speller, senior scientist at the BMT Group in an article by the BBC.