How Gilbert is devouring his way through plastic pollution
A robotic fish could be the next big step in the campaign to clean up the oceans.
The futuristic fish, affectionately named Gilbert, is designed to devour micro-plastic pollution that is threatening fish stocks around the world.
Gilbert was the winning entry in the inaugural Natural Robotics Contest, organised by the 125-year-old University of Surrey, in England, which invited bio-inspired designers to come up with ideas to solve current issues.
The two-foot prototype, one of more than 100 entries from around there world, was designed by student Eleanor Mackintosh.
The remote-controlled gills are lined with a fine mesh that filters out particles down to two millimetres as it swims. There is still work to do to make the creation faster, more powerful and more intelligent and researchers have made the design publicly available in the hope that it will attract crowdsource funding to take it to the next level.
Dr Robert Siddall, a teacher in aerospace engineering at the university, was one of the judges. “We chose Eleanor’s idea because we really liked it and the way it used bio-inspiration, and also because cleaning up ocean plastic was the most common purpose among all the entries we received,” he said. “We thought our winner should reflect that.”
Other intriguing entries considered by the judges included a hermit crab rover, a milkweed planting robot squirrel and a kingfisher/penguin hybrid to combat illegal logging and deforestation.