In an astonishing research, scientists have developed a mini robotic fish that will keep an eye on the hard-to-find sea creatures. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have developed this unique type of robotic fish that will help scientists get information about the secretive sea life. The name of the robotic fish is SoFi (soft robotic fish) and according to its creators, it moves like a fish, moves like a fish but, it is not a fish.
Although SoFi is not the first robotic fish to be used for scientific purpose, it is surely the most versatile and the most innovative robot of its kind. SoFi has got built-in cameras so as to help the scientists get a better insight into the lives of hard-to-see sea creatures. The robotic fish can get very close to the sea animals without spooking them. SoFi can help scientists understand and protect the endangered marine animals whose life is threatened by human activity and climate change.
SoFi is unique and is built at a very low cost. Unlike other marine robots, SoFi does not scare other sea creatures rather some fishes swim along with SoFi. SoFi is one and a half feet long and is made of silicon rubber and molded and 3D printed plastics and that is why it is cheap, soft and easy to fabricate. It has got a built-in buoyancy tank filled with compressed air so that it could adjust its depth and stay at specific points in the sea. SoFi can swim at speeds of half of its body length per second and can go as deep as 60 feet below the sea surface. SoFi can handle currents, take pictures and videos for up to 45 minutes before its battery shuts down.
SoFi was taken for a test dive in Fiji’s Rainbow Reef where all these things were recorded. SoFi’s controller controlled it from a waterproof Super-Nintendo like remote, making it swim straight, turn or dive up or down and also varied its speed. Co-author of the study Daniela Rus of CSAIL said, “It’s elegant and beautiful to watch in motion. We were excited to see that our fish could swim side by side with real fish, and they didn’t swim away. This is quite different to when a human diver approaches.”Unlike other autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), SoFi is not tethered to a boat or powered by a heavy propeller. It is powered by a lightweight lithium polymer battery that is usually used in smartphones. The latest report was published in the journal Science Robotics.