SoFi is swimming with the fishes. No, SoFi is not dead, SoFi is a robot. SoFi is a robot that swims like a fish. Now, SoFi is swimming with real fish.
|Soft robotic fish swims alongside real ones in ocean|
Scientists have unveiled “SoFi,” a soft robotic fish that can independently swim alongside real fish in the ocean.
During test dives in the Rainbow Reef in Fiji, SoFi swam at depths of more than 50 feet for up to 40 minutes at once, nimbly handling currents and taking high-resolution photos and videos using a fisheye lens.
“To our knowledge, this is the first robotic fish that can swim untethered in three dimensions for extended periods of time,” said Robert Katzschmann from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.
“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,” said Katzschmann, lead author of the study published in the journal Science Robotics.
Existing autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) have traditionally been tethered to boats or powered by bulky and expensive propellers.
In contrast, SoFi has a much simpler and more lightweight setup, with a single camera, a motor, and the same lithium polymer battery that is found in consumer smartphones.
To make the robot swim, the motor pumps water into two balloon-like chambers in the fish’s tail that operate like a set of pistons in an engine. As one chamber expands, it bends and flexes to one side; when the actuators push water to the other channel, that one bends and flexes in the other direction.