Lake Geneva’s latest resident—all four feet of it—is neither man nor beast. Dubbed the Envirobot, the critter is a biomimetic robot designed by Swiss researchers to pinpoint the source of pollution in tainted waters.
Bereft of fins or propellers, Envirobot slithers through water like an eel, leaving mud and aquatic life undisturbed. Just as stealthily, it uses sensors to gather data from various locations, which it transmits to a remote computer in near-instantaneous fashion.
Even for an automaton, Envirobot is uncommonly clever. Besides its capacity to follow a preprogrammed path, it can also make its own decisions, independently sniffing out the origin of the contamination.