For a robot to help scientists truly understand marine life it must engage underwater environments without disturbing them. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report in Science Robotics this week their agile, undulating soft robotic fish does just that, having observed and recorded aquatic life along coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean at depths of up to 18 meters. A product of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the robot exchanges information with human divers via an acoustic communication modem and propels itself using a motor-powered water pump rather than more disruptive and less agile water jets or propellers that chase away the fish researchers want to study.
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