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Open-Source Fish Robot Collecting Microplastics from U.K. Lakes


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What the trash-collecting fish looks like.

Named “Gillbert,” the device consists of a flooded head unit and a watertight tail unit. Thanks to a set of gills on its sides and a fine mesh in between them that can sieve 2-millimeter particles, the robotic fish filters the water and keeps

Credit: Robert Siddall

A robot fish that won the 2022 Natural Robotics Contest hosted by the U.K.'s University of Surrey has been developed into a functioning prototype that can collect microplastics from waterways.

Developed from a design by student Eleanor Mackintosh, "Gillbert" is a three-dimensionally (3D) printed device the size of a salmon that features a set of gills with a fine mesh that can sieve 2 mm particles from the water.

The open-source design can be downloaded from the contest's website and produced by anyone with a 3D printer.

University of Surrey's Robert Siddall said upcoming improvements to the robot will allow it to move faster and autonomously.

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