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Robotics Technology

Giant Robotic Jellyfish Unveiled by Researchers 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-you-science dept.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, an anonymous reader writes in with news about a giant robot jellyfish. As if there weren't enough real jellyfish around to trigger our thalassophobia, researchers at Virginia Tech have created Cryo -- an eight-armed autonomous robot that mimics jelly movement with the help of a flexible silicone hat. The man-sized jellybot altogether dwarfs previous efforts, hence the upgrade from small tank to swimming pool for mock field tests. And unlike the passively propelled bots we've seen recently, Cryo runs on batteries, with the researchers hoping to better replicate the energy-efficient nature of jelly movement to eventually increase Cryo's charge cycle to months instead of hours. That's also the reason these robotic jellyfish are getting bigger -- because the larger they are, the further they can go."
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Giant Robotic Jellyfish Unveiled by Researchers

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  • I, for one, welcome our robotic, aquatic overlords.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I, for one, welcome our robotic, aquatic overlords.

      Admit it, you want to have your brain transplanted into one of these, along with Wi-Fi, and you'll spend the rest of your days happily exploring and blogging about it.

  • "NO! I designed the Giant Robotic Jellyfish of Death to help mankind, not destroy it!" --Dr. Death

    • by hey! (33014)

      Reminds me of graffiti I once read on the wall of an outhouse at a remote paleontology camp. "INVERTEBRATES RULE!" To which someone else penned the response "Grow yourself a backbone, bozo!"

      There's a definite machismo pecking order in the natural scientists, with the lordly dinosaur men (some of whom are women) on top, with their dirt encrusted pickup trucks with empty beer cans bouncing around in back. I remember one of them at a conference remarking to me after hearing a paper about sticklebacks, "That's

      • by David Gould (4938)

        There's a definite machismo pecking order in the natural scientists

        As opposed to the real scientists? *ducks*

  • Go Go Godzilla!

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday March 29, 2013 @11:42AM (#43311845) Homepage Journal

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the continual advancement of science, but... why? What useful purpose could a giant, robot jellyfish possibly serve?

    From TFA:

    Potential uses include ocean monitoring

    .. which we already have, and better methods at that.

    perhaps clearing oil spills,

    Again, not a novel concept, and the methods we have in place now (partially thanks to the Deepwater Horizon disaster) seem to work pretty well (since oil tends to sit on the surface of the water, what good would an underwater robot do, anyway?)

    ...the US Navy, which is funding the work, sees an opportunity to recruit jellies for underwater surveillance -- a job the researchers say is suited to their natural-looking disguise.

    Riiiiiight... like a 10-foot diameter silicon disk with a flashy-flashy LED on the top is going to fool anybody...

    Seriously, I think "Because we thought it would be cool, and wanted to prove that we could" would be a more reasonable excuse than the ones posited above.

    • It's a collection of robot arms with a plastic tablecloth on the top, that's all. At least the other one made claims of running itself on hydrogen for what that was worth, probably not much since you'd be better off using the energy it took to seperate the hydrogen to actually power the thing.

      • Personally, I'm a bit surprised they aren't using this as an opportunity to try and find a way to use ocean currents for a power source, as we do with tidal generators; [wikipedia.org] i.e., as the machine sinks, turbines spin and generate power that it can use to push itself back up towards the surface.

    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      While I agree with you that a Jellyfish robot by itself doesn't seem all that useful, it's important to notice we're talking about an academic project. The system composing technologies, like developed actuators, control algorithms, communication systems, materials, waterproofing, underwater sensors, etc, are what really matters. The Jellyfish robot that is making the news is nothing but an academic testing and benchmark platform for all these "real", useful technologies.
      • The system composing technologies, like developed actuators, control algorithms, communication systems, materials, waterproofing, underwater sensors, etc, are what really matters.

        Perhaps, but couldn't they have just tested those technologies on an existing and proven useful platform? [wikipedia.org]

        Just seems to me like a waste of tax dollars, so a handful of academics can say, "dude, check out the cool toy we built!"

    • by David Gould (4938)

      If you RTFS, you might notice that it mentions "replicat[ing] the energy-efficient nature of jelly movement". Any task that's useful to perform in water can be done better by making the vehicle more energy-efficient. Other properties of the design will no doubt make it more suitable for some tasks than for others. That'll all shake out as the technology becomes available to designers of machines for all sorts of purposes. Adding another mode of locomotion to the toolkit available to such designers can only

      • Best rationale posited thus far.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        That would be great if there were useful things that can be done at jellyfish speeds (very slow), at jellyfish accuracy (very low) with jellyfish carrying capacities (almost zero). Basically jellyfish are floaters with some capacity to regulate their depth in the water. They are almost neutrally buoyant so it takes very little energy. A robot has much more mass and density so would still take considerable energy to move.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          I question that a robot inherently has a high density. (FWIW, I believe that even a ship is lighter than water.)

          The important thing here is that it can adjust it's depth in the water in an energy efficient manner. This would seem tailor made to trace the flow of ocean currents at varying depths. But they need to get the efficiency up a bit. I don't think a few months is sufficient...not for the use-case I'm imagining. And it would need to rise to the surface occasionally to transmit to a receiver (poss

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            But they need to get the efficiency up a bit. I don't think a few months is sufficient...

            Cryo runs on batteries, with the researchers hoping to better replicate the energy-efficient nature of jelly movement to eventually increase Cryo's charge cycle to months instead of hours.

            It looks like the researchers have even further to go than you thought as they haven't even broken the one day barrier.

            The difference between lasers is that it is quite easy to see the possibilities of concentrating light into a small area and the work it could so. It can be extrapolated from what can be done with a mirror. I find it much more difficult to see how moving like a jellyfish is all that useful except in very limited instances like ocean studies. For example, they mention spill cleanup; much too

    • by Sigg3.net (886486)

      It makes for a great Bluetooth range extender. But without Bluetooth it's practically useless.

  • ....giant squid. And if there's any justice in this world, Dave Gibbons will be the lead visual designer on them.

  • That would be an awesome band name.

  • From what I've read, it looks like they want it to look more and more like a Jellyfish. I wonder how they will keep it from getting eaten?
  • Dear Everyone-that-wants-to-post-something,

    Vimeo sucks balls. Please stop.

    You might as well just stream it off your desktop. No, wait, you might have taken that suggestion seriously. That was a joke, that's probably the only video service that would actually suck worse than Vimeo.

    Thanks,
    -Styopa

  • Welcome our new Giant Robot Jellyfish Overloads and... oh never mind

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