With the headline “Soft robotic fish swims alongside real ones in coral reefs,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week announced that “a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) unveiled ‘SoFi,’ a soft robotic fish that can independently swim alongside real fish in the ocean.”

“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,” MIT News informed the world. “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.”

Why does the world need a robot fish? “We view SoFi as a first step toward developing almost an underwater observatory of sorts,” CSAIL director Daniela Rus told MIT News. “It has the potential to be a new type of tool for ocean exploration and to open up new avenues for uncovering the mysteries of marine life.”

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Categories: Nature