SoFi – Spy Fish

Malena Lilly, Staff Writer

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Recently, with global warming becoming an increasingly arising issue that apparently “Doesn’t exist in the USA” according to our president, in conjunction with with overfishing, the problem has arisen that we need to be intensely monitoring how our actions affect our oceans and freshwater and how marine life is handling everything, a crucial dilemma in researching ocean life is that getting close to the marine life is immensely hard due to the fact that at the first sign of trouble the fish, whales, sharks, plants, and crustaceans scatter and swim away, while coral will shrink back in an attempt to hide. So the question was, “How can we study these incredible organisms without disturbing them or even being detected?” the answer, built by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), an autonomous fish. The snow white remote-controlled robot closely resembles and mimics a real fish, complete with a flexible tail that flicks from side to side and two “fins.” Though not the first autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), SoFi resolves many of the issues that have impeded the usefulness of previous AUV. The researchers say during test dives in Fiji’s Rainbow Reef, SoFi “swam” alongside the unsuspecting marine life at depths of 50-feet for up to 40 minutes at a time, recording HD photos and videos. Above all it was able to do this without causing any disturbance. While SoFi currently only records video, future versions will include sensors such as thermometers. The researchers also hope to make it more autonomous and see a day when swarms AUV powered by solar cells, will follow fish around, thus allowing scientists to gain information into schooling habits and monitor their population. “We imagine someday it might help us uncover more mysteries from the amazing underwater world that we know so little about.” Says a researcher Rus.

I love marine biology and technology so reading about this story was fascinating. I hope one day I will be able to do something in this realm. Very inspiring to me.

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