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Robo-fish swim into the ocean's funk, so you don't have to

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Gene Roddenberry would have you believe that space is the final frontier. But really, the deep blue sea is more apt for that distinction. And without mega-rich hobbyists to fund exploratory plunges into those uncharted depths, science has had to seek out an alternative, more cost-effective means. Enter the robotic fish. Measuring five feet in length (1.5 meters), lasting up to eight hours and costing about $32,000 (£20,000), these cyborg swimmers are made to boldly go where no man should -- that is, into contaminated waters. The project -- a joint collaboration between the University of Essex and Strathclyde, the Tyndall National Institute and defense contractor Thales Safare (cue ominous Jaws soundtrack) -- aims to cut down on the time it traditionally takes to collect samples and determine corresponding levels of water pollution. The sensor-laden bots apparently swim just like the real thing and, if a recent trial off the coast of Gijon, Spain pans out, could very soon "school" their mass-produced way into other maritime endeavors. No word on whether these automated pesce will be able to detect the piscio in your pool, but there's always the purple water for that.

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