Chinese scientists develop robot fish that gobble up microplastics

Published July 13, 2022
A fish-shaped robot moves under the direction of a near-infrared light in this screen grab provided on Tuesday.—Reuters
A fish-shaped robot moves under the direction of a near-infrared light in this screen grab provided on Tuesday.—Reuters

BEIJING: Robot fish that “eat” microplastics may one day help to clean up the world’s polluted oceans, says a team of Chinese scientists from Sichuan University in southwest China.

Soft to touch and just 1.3 centimetres (0.5 inch) in size, these robots already suck up microplastics in shallow water.

The team aims to enable them to collect microplastics in deeper water and provide information to analyse marine pollution in real time, said Wang Yuyan, one of the researchers who developed the robot.

“We developed such a lightweight miniaturised robot. It can be used in many ways, for example in biomedical or hazardous operations, such a small robot that can be localised to a part of your body to help you eliminate some disease.”

The black robot fish is irradiated by a light, helping it to flap its fins and wiggle its body. Scientists can control the fish using the light to avoid it crashing into other fish or ships.

If it is accidentally eaten by other fish, it can be digested without harm as it is made from polyurethane, which is also biocompatible, Wang said.

The fish is able to absorb pollutants and recover itself even when it is damaged. It can swim up to 2.76 body lengths per second, faster than most artificial soft robots.

“We are mostly working on collection (of microplastics). It is like a sampling robot and it can be used repeatedly,” she said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Banning PTI
Updated 16 Jul, 2024

Banning PTI

It appears that the govt and its backers within the establishment have still not realised that they are in uncharted territory.
Nato at 75
16 Jul, 2024

Nato at 75

EMERGING from the ashes of World War II, and locked in confrontation with the Soviet-led Communist bloc for over ...
Non-stop massacres
16 Jul, 2024

Non-stop massacres

Netanyahu is cunningly pretending to talk peace while mercilessly pounding Gaza. What is clear is that a return to pre-Oct 7 status quo is impossible.
Afghan challenge
Updated 15 Jul, 2024

Afghan challenge

Foreign states must emphasise to the Afghan Taliban diplomatic recognition and trade relations all depend on greater counterterrorism efforts.
‘Complete’ justice
15 Jul, 2024

‘Complete’ justice

NOW that the matter of PTI’s reserved seats stands resolved, there are several equally pressing issues pertaining...
Drug fog
15 Jul, 2024

Drug fog

THE country has an old drug problem. While the menace has raged across divides of class and gender, successive ...