Computer scientists at MIT have unveiled a new, soft robot fish that can independently swim alongside real fish in the ocean. They call their robot fish SoFi and described the work in an article published March 21, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Science Robotics. . A statement from MIT said:
During test dives in the Rainbow Reef in Fiji, SoFi swam at depths of more than 50 feet [15 meters] for up to 40 minutes at once, nimbly handling currents and taking high-resolution photos and videos using (what else?) a fisheye lens.
Using its undulating tail and a unique ability to control its own buoyancy, SoFi can swim in a straight line, turn, or dive up or down. The team also used a waterproofed Super Nintendo controller and developed a custom acoustic communications system that enabled them to change SoFi’s speed and have it make specific moves and turns.
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.
Even with new technological advances in recent years, it is very difficult to document marine life up close. The scientists hope that the new robot will help shed a little bit of light on marine habitats and in turn, learn how to better protect their environments and different species.