MindBullets 20 Years

Farming the high seas with robots

That's no tasty tuna, it's Robofish

When is a robofish actually a cowboy or a sheepdog? When it looks after your fish, farmed in the open sea.

Fishing as a food source has long been big business, but wild stocks have been severely over exploited in some areas, and fish farming has become a viable alternative. But farming fish in sheltered estuaries and bays offers limited scope for improving global food security.

The best place for serious fish farming is the open sea, in deep water, but the infrastructure costs were considered prohibitive. Building and maintaining large pens and feeding shoals is a costly exercise.

Now there’s an alternative – let your fish roam the ocean, feeding naturally and contributing to the ocean ecology; then herd the shoal to your offshore facility for harvesting, using robotic ‘fish-herds’.

Scientists discovered back in 2017 that by imitating the behaviour of a species, robot fish could successfully integrate with a community, and influence their movements. Subsequently, tyrant tuna and despotic dolphin robots have been developed, which can keep tabs on free-swimming shoals, letting them graze the oceans, until they’re ready for, um, processing.

Using artificial intelligence, robofish learn the patterns of behaviour and interaction of their ‘flock’, adjusting their own responses until they are able to effectively steer the shoal to the desired waters. Robofish can also protect the shoal from predators, ensuring free-range fish stocks don’t become dangerously depleted.

With no need to scour the seas, fishermen can focus on bringing in the catch, and the data the robots collect is keeping environmentalists and ichthyologists happy too!

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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