GRACE – A Robotic Fish Monitors Our Dirty Water


Water quality monitoring is a key component of environmental safety and health. In order for results to be consistent and valuable to scientists and the local community, tests have to be run on a consistent basis. A team at the University of Michigan headed by Xiaobo Tan, a designer and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, have invented a robot that could automate and streamline the entire process.

GRACE (Gliding Robot ACE) is a highly efficient water-quality monitoring robot that uses sensors to track and record toxins in the water, chart the movements of ships in and out of ports etc. Shaped like a model airplane in a fish’s skin, GRACE’s battery-powered pumps maneuver her up or down through the water while a rear “fin” steers her motion. Depending on the depth of the water, GRACE can repeat a cycle of movements over two hundred times, covering long distances.

GRACE’s creators see the potential for this technology to be scaled up to the point where multiple bots could work in tandem monitoring critical water sources and tracking the migration of toxins over larger areas.