A US-based tech company Edge Innovations has created a first-of-its-kind robotic dolphin targeting to replace all captive dolphins used in the marine entertainment industry.
The dolphin looks very similar to those that perform acrobatics and entertain the audience at theme parks and a woman who swam with the remote-controlled marine creature exclaimed, “when I first saw the dolphin, I thought it could be real.”
Edge Innovations, the US engineering company with an animatronic and special effects division in California, designed the dolphin, which starts at $3 million to $5 million. Animatronics refer to the technique of making and operating life-like robots which are often used for the portrayal of characters in films and theme parks.
The founder of this innovative tech firm Walt Conti and creative designer Roger Holzberg merged live puppeteering, programmed behavior and artificial intelligence (AI) to build this realistic dolphin that mimics the features and actions of real dolphins.
The life-like animatronic versions which are being used in Hollywood movies are capable of providing entertaining experiences safely and one day it can pull the crowd’s attention at theme parks, aquariums, marine parks without exploiting captive animals. Swimmers could dive with robotic great white sharks or even reptiles that existed in the Jurassic era.
“There are like 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity being used to generate several billions of dollars just for dolphin experiences. And so there’s obviously an appetite to love and learn about dolphins,” said Edge Innovations founder and CEO Walt Conti.
Edge Innovations aims to help businesses restructure the potential of the parks through animatronics. In recent years, the catching, transporting and breeding of marine animals has been restricted and about 20 European countries have already banned or limited wild animals in circuses.
Edge’s animatronic dolphin weighs 550 pounds and is 8-and-a-half-foot in length, its skin is made from medical-grade silicone headlined a program for schools in partnership with TeachKind, which is a part of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Edge’s aquatic creatures have also made Hollywood appearances in blockbusters “Free Willy,” “Deep Blue Sea” and “Anaconda.”
“The idea of this pilot is really to create a kind of “Sesame Street” underwater. Those characters taught a generation how to feel about different kinds of aspects of humankind in ways that had never been imagined before. And that’s what we dream of with this project,” said Mr. Holzberg.
Early this year, Conti and Holzberg were honored with an Innovator for Animals Award from animal-rights organization PETA, for their high-tech innovative idea.