MIT Scientists Develop Robot Fish That Swims Like The Real Thing To Study Marine Life, Reefs

March 22, 2018

This is a video demonstration of SoFi, a soft robotic fish developed by scientists at MIT that can swim untethered by undulating its tail and adjusting it's own buoyancy for up to 40 minutes, at depths deeper than 50 feet. No word if it's detected any mermaid activity yet, but a boy can dream.

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.


"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."

Ahahahhaha, it's controlled by a waterproofed Super Nintendo controller -- that's great (although it's technically an aftermarket SNES Buffalo Classic USB Gamepad in a silicone case -- you can see it in the video). It's certainly not the fastest swimmer, but I suppose sharks need to eat too. *waving new cell phone* Give me a call when it discovers Atlantis. "That's a Speak & Spell." I was wondering why my mom hasn't called lately.

Keep going for a video of the robofish in action.

Thanks again to K Diddie, who informed me I remind him of the ocean. Awww, because I'm so vast and beatiful? "Because you're full of garbage." Okaaaaaay.

  • Munihausen

    I'll find that fish for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten.

  • "To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,"

    I mean, I never tested it at 40 meters... but pretty sure I had a shark that could swim untethered in the tub in like 1985. And the thing cost like 8 bucks.

  • 600k?

    That thing swings like a fake fish AF....

  • GeneralDisorder

    Hey there. Not all fish are monogamous. Of course robot fish swing.

  • Chris

    Yeah, that's getting eaten...

  • Josip Grabić

    Is it edible? You know it's going to be eaten by bigger predators.

  • Chaz Gomez

    I am disappointed that it's not called a Ghoti...

  • The_Wretched

    Blade Runner here we come.

  • Bling Nye

    "No word if it's detected any mermaid activity yet, but a buoy can dream."

    Seems a little fishy.

    So does the operator have to be under water with it to control it? I'd say, "then why the fuck don't they just use a rebreather instead of open-circuit scuba," but if this thing is cheaper to build and use than about $5,000-$15,000, I can see the appeal--the operator would only need to be open/advanced scuba certified and use basic scuba gear... so no extra costs for rebreather training or rebreather equipment, which makes sense...

    Interesting.

    Edit: The point being that it's the bubbles and noise of open circuit that scares fish; on a rebreather you can often get much closer to them.

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