Over the past three decades, animal lovers have become progressively more conscious of the negative impact of keeping intelligent animals at marine parks.
This is in part thanks to documentaries such at the 2013 film Blackfish, which exposed the controversial living conditions of Tilikum, an orca at the U.S. marine park SeaWorld that was involved in the deaths of three people.
In the movie's wake, countries such as Canada have gone so far as to effectively ban whale and dolphin captivity because of the intense stress it is thought to put on aquatic mammals.
But until now, there hadn't been a viable alternative to the highly profitable industry.
"It's surprising there are 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity to generate several billion dollars just for dolphin experiences," said Walt Conti, the founder and CEO of the company behind the robot.
"There's obviously an appetite to love and learn about dolphins and so we want to use that appetite and offer different ways to fall in love with the dolphin."
The response from Edge Innovations has been to replace capturing, breeding, and training the animals by creating a robotic replacement.