Super-sized bath toys could lead the fight against water pollution
"What will they think of next?" dull people with no imagination say when they see a camera that connects to the web, say, or a spoon with prongs. They'll probably follow that up with some reference to Arthur C. Clarke and how advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, before slapping on the latest James Morrison record, uncorking a 2010 Merlot, and tucking into Sainsbury's finest medium cheddar.
Should you find yourself faced with one of these people - at a Wetherspoon's curry night, perhaps - here are three and a bit words that'll blow their tiny little minds: robotic, pollution-eating fish.
Once you've wiped their exploded frontal lobes off your trousers, you might even want to explain to the rest of the pub, who by now are staring, rapt, while their lamb bhunas go cold.
The Spanish port of Gijon, you continue, is trialling the £20,000 yellow fish, which despite looking more at home in a bathtub actually track down spills and feed information back to shore.
To draw them in further, you could even add the 1.5 metre long prototypes have been equipped with cutting edge artiFISHal intelligence - acknowledging the pun with a wry smile - that means they can map where they need to go, avoid obstacles, and even talk to the rest of the shoal.
"The idea is that we want to have real-time monitoring of pollution, so that if someone is dumping chemicals or something is leaking, we can get to it straight away, find out what is causing the problem and put a stop to it," Luke Speller, a senior scientist at the research division of developers BMT Group, told the BBC, before presumably pulling a shiny 10 pence piece from behind the interviewer's ear.
Currently the fish are powered by electricity and need to be charged every eight hours. But Speller is confident that once the kinks are worked out, nothing can stand in the way of an army of cyber-fish bent on world domination. Sorry, we mean the pollution-busting heroes.
"In the future, what I'd also like to see is not just a single task robot, but robots that can multitask," Speller added, while pulling a bouquet from his sleeve. "Robots that can do search and rescue, monitoring for underwater divers, at the same time as tracking pollution."
Which of course the Tank is all for - as long as it doesn't put those lovely Baywatch ladies out of a job.
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