We've been hearing about improvements on robotic "fish" for years, but finally, they're going for a test swim. Yesterday, researchers dropped the fish into the water at the northern Spanish port of Gijon.
If these fish function as planned, it will no longer take weeks to detect pollutants, but mere seconds, and it can work in all sorts of situations from reservoirs to aquariums to, yes, oceans. But they're not cheap -- they cost about $31,600 each! But if they are able to detect pollutants quickly enough to stave off a serious water quality problem, it's worth it.
According to Reuters: "The fish can avoid obstacles, communicate with each other, map where they are and know how to return to base when their eight-hour battery life is running low, their makers say. After the tests this week, the team will look at modifications needed to move the fish into commercial production, which they expect to reduce the cost of each unit."