Over the past few years, marine theme parks such as Seaworld have come under tremendous scrutiny. Documentaries like “Black Fish” and “Long Gone Wild” exposed the cruelties of keeping and displaying orcas and other sea mammals. Like whales, dolphins held in captivity also suffer both physically and emotionally. One tech company is looking to save these wonderful creatures while still allowing the public to enjoy them via robotics.
San Francisco based Edge Innovations has created a dolphin robot that looks and swims like the real thing. Named ‘Flipper’ after the 1960’s film and tv series, it weighs 600 pounds and features a lifelike muscle and skeletal structure. The animatronic bottlenose dolphin is controlled via remote control. It can last 10 hours on one battery charge and survive in a saltwater environment for about 10 years.
Robot Dolphins Coming to Chinese Aquarium
The robot was created by Roger Holzberg and Walt Conti, former Vice President and Creative Director at Disney Imagineering. They hope that robots could one day replace dolphins and other animals that are held in captivity. The technology looks very promising as we could barely tell the difference between the robot and the real thing from a video posted on the company’s website.
“For those of us that care about marine animal preservation, this is a dream come true. I’m humbled, exhilarated, and looking forward to designing these animal saving experiences for years to come, ” said Holzberg.
Edge Innovations believes that by using robots, aquariums and marine parks like SeaWorld will be able to continue in a sustainable, ethical, and safe manner. According to the company, the animatronic dolphins’ first stop may be Asia as they have a large, multi-animal project in development for a new Chinese aquarium.