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Mr. Limpet’s Green Offsprings?


Made in 1964, ‘The Incredible Mr. Limpet‘, a film set during World War II is about a man named Henry Limpet, who would rather be a fish than human. One day his dream comes true suddenly when he falls off the pier at Coney Island and transforms into a fish. From this point Henry finds his destiny, finding true love and working for the US Navy to help defeat Nazis submarines with a super-sonic roar. I loved this movie when I was a kid. Don Knotts looked astonishingly like his animated fish character, Mr. Limpet.

So, what’s this got to do with an environmental blog, you ask? Well, a school of mechanical, battery-powered robots in the shape of fish, that look surprisingly like a bunch of Mr. Limpets (without the glasses), will be released into the waters in the northern Spanish port of Gijon to help monitor pollution. Chosen because port authorities there had expressed an interest in the technology, and assisted with a 2.5-million-pound ($3.6 million) grant from the European Union, allows the robotic fish to patrol the harbor.

robot fish

robot fish

According to University of Essex robotics expert Huosheng Hu whose team (along with BMT Group Ltd., and a consortium), is manufacturing the machines, the 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) robots work by mimicking the swishing movements of a fish’s tail, a design by nature which turns out to be very energy efficient. Sure it is, Mother Nature has been fine tuning the prototype for zillions of years now.

Hu said he hopes to release the robo-fish into the water within the next 18 months. He didn’t know precisely what the machines would look like or even what they would be made of, but he acknowledged the bigger fish probably wouldn’t have the charm of their smaller, blue-and-silver cousin that’s been swimming around in London’s aquarium since 2005, (Ah Shucks!). The project’s more focused on robustness plus they would have to be bigger to withstand higher water pressures and powerful Atlantic tides.

Sensors will help them avoid obstacles such as rocks or moving ships, and the fish can swap navigational information with each other using a form of sonar. The robotic fish will also be equipped with sensors to monitor oxygen levels in the water, detect oil slicks spilled from ships or contaminants pumped into the water from underground pipes to monitor the harbor’s environmental health. If you have every lived near a port, this is incredibly important.

Countless times I have watched a ship come into Galveston Bay headed for the Houston Ship Channel, leaving in it’s wake, foamy, gray-brown, oily water rolling to shore. What causes this? The ships purging the bilge tanks of their polluting mess. Leaving you with a feeling of hopeless anger. Yes, it’s illegal and the shipping industry knows it, but they also know there’s really been no way to catch them. Until now, LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Information gathered from the robot fish would be transmitted to the port’s control center using a wireless Internet signal when the devices surface. The data gathered will be used to create a three-dimensional pollution map of the harbor’s area. When their batteries are nearing the end of their eight-hour capacity, they can swim back to a power hub to recharge. Their estimated maximum speed is about one yard (1 meter) per second and cost is approximately 20,000 pounds ($28,000) each to manufacture.

On a personal note: If Dr. Hu would add a small pair of glasses on the faces of the robo-fish, it would make a legion of Mr. Limpet fans around the would very happy…. Hey, it is just a suggestion!

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8 Responses to “Mr. Limpet’s Green Offsprings?”

  1. Says:

    Mr. Limpet’s Green Offsprings? | Forced Green…

    a school of mechanical, battery-powered robots in the shape of fish, that look surprisingly like a bunch of Mr. Limpets (without the glasses), will be released to help monitor pollution….

  2. Wind Says:

    OMG!! I love Mr. Limpet…it’s right up there with The Ghost and Mr. Chicken!!

    Winds last blog post..It’s Spring! Throw Your Duck in the Truck and go for a Ride!

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi Wind … Me Too! I figured Mr. Limpet was the perfect match for the robot fish!

  4. Anna Bell Says:

    OMG! They do look like Mr. Limpets! Does need the glasses tho! This was a great article. As I also live near a port I know exactly what you mean by “purging the bilge” – disgusting! I’m so glad they have found a way to track these sources of pollution.

    Nice, nice blog site!

  5. wilson Says:

    Beside of you, I’m also a big fan of this “The Incredible Mr.Limpet” movie, Linda. I loved the story very much and I watched it at least hundred times or more when I was a kid! lol Pretty crazy, Huh?

    wilsons last blog post..You Should Eat More Fruits and Vegetables After The Postpartum!

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Anna Bell … They do don’t they! Thank you!

  7. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … LOL! I had no idea how many folks watched Mr. Limpet! Good childhood memories for us all!

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