Soft robotic fish made of silicone rubber, swims alongside real ones in coral reefs, could enable a closer study of aquatic life.
Robotic Fish SoFi was developed with the goal of being as nondisruptive to ocean life as possible, swimming alongside real fish for several minutes at a time.
SoFi can swim in a straight line, turn, or dive up or down.
The team used a water-proof Super Nintendo controller to change SoFi’s speed and have it make specific moves and turns. Credit MIT Csail
During test dives in the Rainbow Reef in Fiji, SoFi swam at depths of more than 50 feet for up to 40 minutes at once, nimbly handling currents and taking high-resolution photos and videos using (what else?) a fisheye lens.
Csail PhD candidate Robert Katzschmann, lead author of the new journal article published today in Science Robotics, explains:
“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time. We are excited about the possibility of being able to use a system like this to get closer to marine life than humans can get on their own.”