Bionic robotic fish removes microplastics from the ocean

Scientists have designed a tiny robotic fish that can be programmed to swim around and remove microplastics from the ocean with a soft, flexible, self-healing body. Microplastics are the billions of tiny plastic particles that flake off larger plastic items such as everyday water bottles, car tires and T-shirts made of synthetic fibers. They are one of the biggest environmental problems of the 21st century because once separated from larger plastic items and dispersed into the environment, they are difficult to remove and end up in drinking water, produce and food, harming the environment as well as animals and human health. “It is of great significance to develop robots to accurately collect and sample harmful microplastic pollutants in the water environment,” said Yuyan Wang, a researcher at the Institute of Polymer Research at Sichuan University and one of the lead authors of the study. A research paper presents her team’s new invention. “As far as we know, this is the first soft robot of its kind.” Researchers at Sichuan University have demonstrated an innovative solution that can track these pollutants in water pollution: designing a small self-propelled robotic fish that It can swim around, grab free-floating microplastics, and repair itself when cut or damaged while exploring.

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