This AI robot fish explores mysterious organisms under the sea

The autonomous bot fits right into the naval environment collecting data without disturbing its surroundings.
Loukia Papadopoulos


There’s a new, autonomous fish robot roaming the seas and it’s collecting valuable data without disturbing the marine environment. It’s called Belle and it could forever revolutionize how we study underwater organisms and the forces that affect them such as overfishing and climate change.

This is according to a report by Euronews and Reuters published on Friday. 

"We want to capture the ecosystems the way they actually behave," Leon Guggenheim, a mechanical engineering student at ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, told Reuters.

How does Belle help in this ambitious goal? By being silent and moving like a fish blending in it to the natural environment and leaving it completely undisturbed.

"Those areas are particularly vulnerable to propeller-based systems that would just sort of shred through the corals or go and scare the fish away,” Robert Katzschmann, Assistant Professor of Robotics at ETH Zurich, said.


The robot is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) which allows it to self-navigate underwater seamlessly. But that’s not all! It can also collect DNA samples and high resolution video.

The robot measures under a meter and weighs almost 10 kg out of the water, making it light enough to travel with ease. Belle is powered by a silicone fin with two cavities into which water is pumped in cycles making for a quiet movement that blends into the coral environments present in the deep seas.

“These cavities are filled and emptied with water through a pump system, and that moves the fin back and forth, because you have a cavity on one side which creates an overpressure and a cavity on the other side which creates a vacuum. That then bends the fin in one direction," Guggenheim said.

Belle can operate autonomously for two hours before its batteries need to be recharged.

“It swims to the surface, sends us a GPS signal and then we go and pick it up again,” Guggenheim said.

“And from there it could send us data, but the idea is that the mission is so long, that the battery has to be replaced anyways and the environmental DNA filter has to be replaced anyways, so there's no point in sending data back if you have to manually get the data for the environmental DNA filter anyways".

The robot may soon become a crucial and perhaps indispensable tool for marine biologists studying the health and biodiversity of various different reef ecosystems in an attempt to protect and preserve marine wildlife, reported the news outlets.

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