California-based tech company Edge Innovations has created a first-of-its-kind robotic dolphin with an aim to replace all captive dolphins used in the marine entertainment industry. Edge Innovations founder Walt Conti and designer Roger Holzberg combined live puppeteering, programmed behavior, and artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic dolphins that mimic the look, feel, and actions of real dolphins. The animatronic versions are capable of providing educational experiences in a sustainable and safe way—and without exploiting captive dolphins—at aquariums, marine parks, theme parks, cruise lines, and museums.
Edge Innovations’ goal is to help businesses reimagine the potential of the marine animal industry. In recent years, the catching, transporting, and breeding of marine animals has become more restricted, and companies such as SeaWorld have struggled to stay afloat.
Recently, Conti and Holzberg were honored with an Innovator for Animals Award from animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “These visionary designers have thrown a lifeline to sensitive dolphins who are exploited in ‘swim with dolphins’ encounters and archaic marine parks,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA is honoring them for making waves with this high-tech invention that lets people get up close to dolphins without harming them.”
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