Researchers from the Technical University of Madrid and the University of Florence have created a robotic fish that can monitor the pH levels of water. As team member Giovanna Marrazza explained to Digital Trends, the robot swims according to directives sent in form of chemical messengers: “The concentration of hydrogen ions in the environment is detected by an electrochemical multi-sensor platform. The acquired signal is then transformed into an electronic signal to be used in robot electronics control.” The robot can detect areas of acidity or pollutant concentration, and swim in their direction to investigate them further.
Robotic sensors could be an important source of ecosystem health data, both on land (for soil health in agriculture, for instance) and in urban water courses, rivers and oceans. You can imagine such data being used to monitor water, food and animal feed sources, and to highlight areas for remedial action to improve water or soil health. The research team is currently seeking further investment to develop the concept.