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Hyper-realistic robot dolphins could replace live animals at aquariums

The robot dolphin is more than 20 years in the making, says designer Roger Holzberg. Its earliest inception debuted in 1999 at the Living Seas exhibit at Disney World’s Epcot.

The robot dolphin is more than 20 years in the making, says designer Roger Holzberg. Its earliest inception debuted in 1999 at the Living Seas exhibit at Disney World’s Epcot.

There wasn’t a widespread use for it then, but as robotic technology has evolved, so has public opinion about the morals of keeping marine mammals in captivity. Edge Innovations is a company that truly lives up to its name. As such, it’s made an animatronic dolphin so real, the company already has high hopes of replacing actual marine life held in captivity and performing at theme park shows. Yes, we’re talking about dolphin robots taking over the (Sea)world!

“Inside that robot is a skeleton where the major elements look very much like a real dolphin,” Holzberg said,”The detail goes so far as to actually integrate fat bladders to be sure that the buoyancy and the feel of it when you actually touch it or move with it or bump against, it feels like its real life counterpart.”

“We believe that there is a possible win-win for both the industry and for the educational initiatives to be able to create, really to reimagine, the kind of entertainment we do with those animals”

“I’ve always thought that the way that we preserve our world oceans is to get people to fall in love with them. And my hope and my dream is that children who interact with these dolphins will fall in love with the ocean and the creatures that live with them and will grow up to preserve them.”

Holzberg says the cost estimate for “a set of primary, secondary and back-up dolphins” could be as high as $35 million Cdn.

But, he says, they will get cheaper to make over time and are cost-effective in the long run, as the robot dolphins don’t require food, veterinary care or carefully calibrated water temperatures.

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