Darting around the pool as a group of swimmers stand in the shallow end, the dolphin looks a lot like those who jump through hoops and perform stunts in theme parks.
But this sea creature is a robot.
“When I first saw the dolphin, I thought it might be real,” said a woman who was swimming with the remote-controlled creature.
Edge Innovations, an American engineering company with an animatronics and special effects division in California, designed the dolphin for an educational pilot program.
He hopes the lifelike animatronics used in Hollywood movies could one day entertain crowds in theme parks, instead of the wild animals held in captivity. Swimmers could dive with robotic great white sharks or even reptiles that filled Jurassic-era seas millions of years ago.
“There are around 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity which are used to generate billions of dollars just for dolphin experiments. And so there is clearly an appetite to love and learn about dolphins, ”said Walt Conti, Founder and CEO of Edge Innovations.
“And so we want to use that appetite and provide kinds of different ways to fall in love with the dolphin.”
Animatronics could bring back audiences turned off by parks using live animals, Conti said.
About twenty European countries have already banned or limited the presence of wild animals in circuses.
At Edge’s corporate headquarters in Hayward, Calif., His 550-pound (250 kg), 8-and-a-half-foot (2.5-meter) animatronic dolphin with medical-grade silicone skin made headlines for a program for schools in partnership with TeachKind, which is part of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Edge also created the aquatic creatures used in the Hollywood blockbusters “Free Willy”, “Deep Blue Sea” and “Anaconda”.
“The idea of this pilot is really to create a sort of ‘Sesame Street’ underwater,” said Roger Holzberg, creative director of Edge’s animatronics program.
“These characters have taught a generation to feel different types of aspects of humanity in ways that had never been imagined before. And that’s what we dream of with this project.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)