SEA SUB SERVICES, has collaborated on the development of the Project SHOAL in Gijón coastal waters in 2012. Led by the Port Authority, our company has carried out the installation of four underwater antennas that defined the field of action of the robotic fish to a depth of -30 meters. Other tasks we developed were putting the robotic fishes into and out of the waters, monitoring, filming, and maintenance. From our facilities, European engineers performed the necessary tests to optimize the robotic fish after three years of work, known as the SHOAL project.
SEA SUB SERVICES has created a twinned company for the manufacture, marketing and maintenance of these robotic fishes with the aim of reducing costs to customers (up to 50%) in the in-situ analysis of the water, and also providing technical support.
Our aim is to introduce the robotic fish in the European market, explain how it works in-situ, show its operational capacity as has been shown by the SHOAL project, and expose the financial savings of controlling the water contamination with this new robotic fish.
SHOAL is an European research project managed by six European organizations, such as, the BMT Group, the project leaders and responsible for the artificial intelligence; the University of Essex responsible for the robotic development; the Tyndall National Institute responsible for the Chemical Sensors; the University of Strathclyde responsible for the hydrodynamic reserch; Thales Safare responsible for the communication network; and the Port Authority of Gijon, the testing port.
SHOAL group has developed robotic fishes that work together to monitor and search for pollution in ports and other aquatic areas. Traditional methods of monitoring pollution involve getting samples in some way (divers) and then sending the samples back to the lab to be analyzed. The whole process takes time and makes real-time pollution information far from being a reality. SHOAL aims to make this process real-time. By having autonomously controlled fish with chemical sensors attached we aim to do these tests in-situ. Further to this, the fish will also be given an intelligence so that if they find significant amounts of pollution, they will all work together to find the source of the pollution so that the port can stop the problem early before more pollution occurs.
SHOAL project development research has focused on five key areas:
1. Artificial intelligence and Swarm intelligence
Development of individual intelligence and robotic fish swarm intelligence in which fish, following simple rules, interact with each other and with their environment.
2. Robotic Design
The swimming mechanism, and mathematic models; motion control methods; and the mechanical structure and sensors.
3. Chemical Analysis
Explore and develop novel chemical sensor subsystems that can be integrated with the general robot concept being developed.
4. Underwater Communications
Develop an Underwater Mobile Ad-hoc Network (UMANet) in adverse environmental conditions.
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and hydrodynamic testing.
The robotic fish has introduced the ability to reduce the time of detection and analysis of pollutants in seawater from weeks to just a few seconds. Chemical sensors installed on the robotic fish allow real-time in-situ analysis instead of the current method of sample collection and dispatch to a laboratory on land. Furthermore, the artificial intelligence means that the robotic fish can identify the source of contamination, allowing a quick and more effective remedial action. Artificial intelligence has been developed and introduced to enable the fish to manage multiple problems, including avoiding obstacles, knowing where to monitor pollution, finding its source, maintaining communications distance from the other robotic fishes and returning to be recharged. Each robotic fish has a set of sensors and external information that allow it to moving around the environment. The robotic fish can map where they are, where to go, what samples should be taken, where and what is the chemical composition of these samples. Then they communicate these data to a base station, the other robotic fish and the user interface. Significantly, the robotic fish has been developed to integrate into the marine environment so that marine life is neither disrupted nor affected in any negative way by their presence, but carries on naturally.
SHOAL joined scientists from across Europe to create a system that could not have been achieved without the collaboration between different disciplines. One of the greatest achievements of SHOAL is getting a robot running outside the laboratory in the harsh and dynamic conditions of the sea. Autonomously exploring and investigating the harbour, the robotic fish can work together to monitor and track the sources of pollution.