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Robotic fish swims with real fish to explore marine life

Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) introduced SoFi, a soft robotic fish, to the public last March 21 through a study published in Science Robotics. SoFi can independently swim alongside real fish in the ocean and is aimed to help in the exploration of marine life.

SoFi was put to the test in a test dive in the coral reefs in Rainbow Reef, Fiji, where it swam at depths of more than 50 feet for up to 40 minutes. It was able to handle currents and capture high-resolution photos and videos using its fisheye lens.

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SoFi is made up of silicone rubber and flexible plastic, with most of its components 3D-printed, as per MIT News last March 21. Meanwhile, a hydraulic pump moves its tail, while urethane foam chambers provide its buoyancy. A waterproof Super Nintendo controller is also used to control SoFi’s speed, moves and turns.

Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL)

“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” says CSAIL PhD candidate Robert Katzschmann, lead author of the new journal article published today in Science Robotics. “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.” 

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A video of SoFi in action may be watched below.  /ra

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TOPICS: coral reefs, Marine life, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oceans, robotics
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