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Korea’s robot fish project found to be failure: state auditor

July 31, 2014
These fish are supposed to swim at the speed of 2.5 meters per second to collect water quality information, but tests showed that they could go as far as only 23 centimeters per second, (Yonhap)

These fishes are supposed to swim at the speed of 2.5 meters per second to collect water quality information, but tests showed that they could go as far as only 23 centimeters per second, (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — A government project to check the water quality of the nation’s four refurbished rivers by using robotic fish has failed to meet its goal as the devices did not function properly, the state auditor said Wednesday.

The former Lee Myung-bak administration launched controversial multibillion dollar project in 2009 to refurbish the country four main rivers including the Han River in efforts to prevent floods and recover the ecosystem near the rivers.

Amid concerns that the river project may compromise water quality, the administration also started a 5.7 billion won (US$5.6 million) project to develop robotic fish and have them collect data on the water quality of the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers.

Announcing the outcome of a three-month probe into the project, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) said nine robot fish produced under the project were found be unable to perform their assigned task of monitoring water quality properly.

The fish are supposed to swim at the speed of 2.5 meters per second to collect water quality information, but tests showed that they could go as far as only 23 centimeters per second, it said.

One of the five sensors required to test waters’ temperature, acidity, conductivity, oxygen level and murkiness was not installed while testing the four sensors proved impossible due to malfunctions.

In addition, the fish was capable of underwater mobile communication at a far lower speed than the original target.

Despite the underperformance, the Korea Research Council for Industrial Science and Technology (ISTK), a government research organization in charge of the project, announced the project was a success based on its fabrication-ridden test results, the agency said.

“The ISTK failed to come up with an appropriate review of the project, making it hard (for the public) to trust their review result,” the audit agency said, adding that it has requested the research institute to submit a new review.

The agency said it has also demanded punishment on two researchers in charge of the project.

BAI’s audit into the project was conducted between January and March upon a request from the National Assembly.

The latest report from the audit agency came after its announcement early last year that the four-river project was fraught with problems including shoddy construction and water quality deterioration.

pbr@yna.co.kr

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