Today’s “Planet Earth Report” –MIT Creates “SoFi” a Robitic Fish to Explore Earth’s Submerged ‘Exoplanets’ (WATCH Video)

 

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 95 percent of the Earth’s oceans has yet to be seen by human eyes. Given that 70 percent of our planet is water, it’s like we have a completely submerged alien planet on our doorstep.


In a new study published in Science Robotics, researchers at MIT unveil what they say is the most advanced robotic fish of its kind ever built. Armed with a camera and a lifelike wiggle, the device could one day help biologists monitor the health of marine habitats without stressing out their aquatic denizens.

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The Soft Robotic Fish, SoFi for short, is 18.5 inches long from snout to tail and weighs about 3.5 pounds. It can dive 60 feet underwater and is powered by enough juice for about 40 minutes of exploration.

“There will be a revolution in some fields with soft robots,” says SoFi's co-creator Robert Katzschmann, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. “It may be for underwater locomotion, but also walking robots or grasping robots. This whole field will see changes.”

 

As climate change and overfishing wreak havoc on oceans, scientists are racing to study marine life in detail. But scuba-diving humans don't exactly blend in, which can make it hard to watch some animals up-close. SoFi could act as marine biologists' unobtrusive eyes and ears.

“When we were designing the robot, we tried to make sure that it's moving to conserve the life we're trying to observe,” says co-author Joseph DelPreto.

 

A team of researchers at the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab revealed on Wednesday that they have created a robotic fish named “SoFi" that can tackle the daunting task of exploring our ocean’s uncharted waters. It’s made out of flexible materials, making it perfect for exploring reefs and hidden undersea caverns.

The main reason this fishy little robot was developed was to observe and gather data of how aquatic animals actually behave in their natural habitat without spooking them.

The Daily Galaxy via MIT, National Geographic,  and Inverse

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