World’s First Spy Fish Ready To Swim

SoFi in action Source: gadgetcubes Anyone watching older science fiction films will have noticed something obvious; the gadgets depicted have, for the most part, already come to pass. Or, at least the ones that fit into realistically achievable science. Videophones have arrived in the form of Skype, putting to rest one of the longest running science fiction tropes in cinema history. Playing at a casino online is now the norm, and AR and VR are coming to the fore and creating a whole new world that’s accessible by mobile phone. But what about some of the more obscure gadgets? Such as, for example, a robot fish used to spy on underwater animals? Never fear, the robot fish is now officially here, in the form of the latest venture from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. SoFi, the robot fish.

It’s Just Like A Real Fish

Upon looking at SoFi, a person might draw the conclusion that they were looking at a bizarre Cyclopean rubber dart. Sporting an array of fins, a single eye, and having a body made of soft, waterproof rubber, the ‘fish’ looked more alien than aquatic. However, the creators assure, the device passes as a fish amongst its underwater brethren. SoFi swims about using realistic fish movements, can navigate underwater environments, and uses the single eye to take photos. Real sea creatures are apparently none the wiser, which isn’t saying much for the intelligence of the average unwater dweller. Either way, early tests have been positive, with SoFi managing to blend in with oceanic life convincingly.

What Will It Do?

SoFi was designed with the purpose of snapping spy images of underwater sea life. Given that SoFi can blend in, it will take images of sea creatures in their natural environments, undisturbed. This is an interesting and intriguing proposition indeed, given that most sea life runs like the wind from any human divers. SoFi is an impressive piece of hardware, especially given that the underwater drone is designed to handle difficult underwater turbulence. The cyber fish can counter turbulent water, keeping it not only level, but also swimming in the right direction. This is achieved with sophisticated built-in artificial intelligence, linked to the swimming mechanics of the drone. There are, however, a few limitations on the mechanical fish. The problems are that the drone has a rather limited battery life, and can only swim to very limited depths.

SoFi Limitations

The problem with all drones is that they are extremely limited by their battery life. Even the best flying drones can only be up and about for about an hour, before crashing to the ground with a dead battery. SoFi has similar limitations. Mechanical fins need juice, and there is only so much a small fish body can carry around. Sadly, SoFi will be able to swim for a maximum of about forty minutes, depending on the amount of stabilising swimming needing to be done. This is a pretty big limitation. SoFi will also have a depth limit of about fifteen meters, which is not very deep as far as the ocean goes. In other words, although being a very sophisticated and unique as far as underwater exploration goes, this mechanical fish is not going to be blowing anyone out of the water, at least not yet. But, of course, this first version of SoFi is just the beginning. Depending on the success of this drone model, future improvements are sure to follow. The groundwork has already been done for a mechanical fish design that could explore the depths of the ocean, perhaps going where no deep sea explorer has gone before. For the time being, SoFi will spend its time bamboozling surface dwelling fish, for 40 minutes at a time, anyways.

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