The so-called robot fish, or underwater robots, are expected to be deployed in parts of four major rivers in Korea next year to monitor water quality. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy announced that the development of underwater robot has made steady progress since the government consigned the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology to lead the joint project in June. Two or three robot fish will form one unit, which will be tested in one or two, at the most, of the four major rivers next year.
President Lee Myung-bak first mentioned the lifelike underwater robot in November of 2009 in the “Conversation with the President” program. Such robots are already used in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other advanced economies to explore underwater resources or monitor water quality in rivers and oceans. The robots are capable of collecting water quality data and water temperature, and send the data to instantaneously while swimming in the water. It is time-consuming, costly, and environmentally limited for human divers to be deployed for such missions. This is why it is more efficient for self-propelled robot fish to collect and send the data.
Robot Fish “Iktus”
The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology developed a prototype robot fish “Iktus” in 2008. In September of the following year, it had introduced a 42-centimeter Iktus V3. Beside Iktus, other fish robots in Korea include ROFI developed by the Seoul National University in 2006 for test purposes and the blowfish-type robot equipped with voluntary mobility and remote control devices made in 2009 by the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials and the Konkuk University. Still a work in progress, Iktus will be capable of swimming at the speed of 2.5 meters per second and carry more than five sensors to monitor water quality.
Water Quality Inspection by Robot Fish
What is so interesting about the robot fish to be employed for water quality inspection in 2011 is that the fish will be operated in a unit of two or three robots. The original plan was for each fish to be loaded with all the sensors and operated independently. But President Lee suggested that its size be reduced so as not to scare away other fish in the water. The problem was that it would be impossible to attach all the sensors on a downsized fish. The solution was to distribute the sensors among two or three different fish robots and work them as a unit. The robots are battery-run and designed to recharge themselves by attaching to a recharger when power is depleted. They’re also capable of collecting, analyzing, and transmitting the information on water temperature and quality on a real-time basis.
Robot Fish and Green Growth
Korea’s latest growth paradigm is green growth, which is also embraced by the rest of the world. One of the most important prerequisites for green growth is water quality protection. Therefore, robot fish can be considered a symbol of green growth. With the future economy likely to be powered by green growth, the robot fish will play an integral part in our future.