Mecha-fish to populate the ocean, nibble at silicon reefs

Don’t you people see what’s happening? They’re taking over! First our pets, then our fashion models (expensive pets essentially), and now… our fish? Well, if you’re planning on replacing the world’s natural organisms with your own silicon creations (as the machines certainly are), then it makes sense to start small. Self-replicating micromachines, solar-powered bugs, and now mechanical fishies.

Well, I guess it’s not all part of the plot. These fish, created by engineers at the University of Essex, are essentially mobile pollution monitors. They’ll be swimming up and down rivers and exploring seas, recording information as they go. They navigate independently and can return to a docking station to charge, so conceivably you could just turn about a billion of ’em loose in the oceans and let them drift. Of course, there are two factors to consider: attrition and cost.

These fish are made to look just like real fish, and if you watch the video above, I think you’ll join me in saying that they’ve done a pretty impressive job. If you were a shark or other aquatic predator (assuming you’re not), I doubt you’d discriminate. Okay, so some are going to get eaten. Granted. That won’t be a problem unless they cost like $1000 each, right? Oh, you say they cost $30,000 each? I guess we have a problem then.

I don’t think they’ll be taking over any time soon at that cost, but apart from my fears of the coming robocalypse, I hope they’ll get a couple out there.