Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) computer scientists have revealed in a paper out this month that it could be possible to document marine life with use of a soft robotic fish. The fish is said to be able to swim along with real fishes in an ocean. In a test at Fiji’s Rainbow Reef, SoFi took videos and images of high resolution using its fisheye lens. Moreover, it was able to handle currents nimbly and swim for up to 40 minutes at depths of over 50 feet.
First Robotic Fish to Swim Untethered in Three Dimensions for Long Time Periods
SoFi could be made to turn and move in specific directions and change its speed with the help of a custom acoustic communications system and waterproofed Super Nintendo controller developed by the MIT team. It could dive up or down, turn, and swim in a straight line using its exclusive ability to control its own buoyancy and undulating tail. Lead author of the paper published in Science Robotics, Robert Katzschmann, CSAIL Ph.D. candidate said that SoFi is probably the first robotic fish that could swim for extended time periods in three dimensions untethered.
SoFi uses lithium polymer battery used by most consumer smartphones, a motor, a single camera, and a more lightweight, much simpler setup. Its two balloon-like chambers in the tail work as an engine’s piston set that receives water pumped by the motor to help the robot swim. It swims at close to half of its body length per second.