In the future robotic dolphins will swim in aquariums

Technology and digital innovation are ready to support the animal world. Thanks to the initiative and effort of the US company Edge Innovations specialized in animatronics and supported by some researchers, in the coming years we will see a significant change in lots of aquariums and theme parks. 

The project involves the construction of robot dolphins, with a remotely controlled system, able to replace the real specimens still forced to live in captivity. Walt Conti, CEO of Edge Innovations, stressed that: “There are like 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity being used to generate several billions of dollars just for dolphin experiences” and added: “we want to offer different ways to fall in love with the dolphin”. The former creative director of Walt Disney and current robot dolphin designer Roger Holzberg said: “This dolphin weighs, feels and was designed to simulate everything from skeletal structure, to muscle interaction with skeletal structure, to the fat blisters and weight deposits on a real adolescent bottlenose dolphin”. The robot animal has in fact the same physiognomy as a real one, it has a length of 2,5 meters and a weight of about 250 kilograms, moreover, the robot’s “skin” is made from medical-grade silicone. The material used for its creation lasts in salt water for 10 years. The value of this robot sea mammal is several million dollars, so the high purchase price could be one of the main reasons to oppose its spread, but the cost of these robots maintenance would not be as high as the cost for real dolphins’ care. 

Red Star Macalline Group was the first Chinese company interested in replacing real dolphins with robot brothers, and Vice President Mike Wang said they “would adopt robotic dolphins and other animals in our new aquarium projects”. Unfortunately, the agreement has been put on hold because of the global pandemic. 

The success of this ambitious project would allow everyone, young and old people, to swim in close contact with the robot dolphins designed by Edge Innovations which in the past also built the aquatic creatures for some Hollywood movies such as Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea and Free Willy. 

Roger Holzberg said that: “the goal of this initiative is to reimagine the entertainment, educational, and business potential of the marine animal industry” and he then added: “a safe, up close, personal engagement with the creatures of our world ocean is finally possible”. 

Will this technology be able to bring both captivity and exploitation of many animals to an end, letting them live in their natural habitats? 

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