By Evan Ackerman
(No, I didn’t mess the picture up, that’s POPO the RoboFish)
I suppose it was only a matter of time before our finned friends began to get replaced by robots… At least if you find a robot belly up in your fish tank you can just recharge it and set it loose again, where it can resume swimming around, happily doing all of the exciting things that a real goldfish would do. Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), the developers of this cute ‘n cuddly little guy, are actively trying to create a new underwater life form, they say, as part of their Aqua project.
Their current prototype is named POPO. It can swim (although it’s unclear exactly how swimming is accomplished) for 24 hours using rechargeable battery packs. It’s smart enough to avoid obstacles using an ultrasound emitter, and its little fishy brain is fully programmable. At the moment it’s limited to a depth of about 2 meters (any deeper and POPO starts to leak), but the designers hint that with a little more funding, they could drastically increase its maximum depth and endurance. Just think of the practical possibilities!