According to a team of Chinese scientists from Sichuan University in southwest China, robot fish that “eat” microplastics might one day assist to clean up the world’s filthy waters.

These robots, which are soft to the touch and just 1.3 centimetres (0.5 inch) in size, are already sucking up microplastics in shallow water.

According to Wang Yuyan to Reuters, one of the researchers who built the robot, the team’s goal is to be able to gather microplastics in deeper water and offer information to analyze marine pollution in real time.

“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.”

A light shines on the black robot fish, causing it to flap its fins and wriggle its body. Scientists can use light to control the fish and keep it from colliding with other fish or ships.

If it is eaten by another fish, it will be digested without damage since it is composed of polyurethane, which is also biocompatible, according to Wang.

Even when harmed, the fish is able to absorb contaminants and recover. It can swim at a rate of 2.76 body lengths per second, which is quicker than the majority of artificial soft robots.

“We are mostly focused on collecting (of microplastics). It functions similarly to a sample robot and may be used again “she told Reuters.

Source: Reuters

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