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U.S. Navy Funding Development Of Giant Jellyfish Robot

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
March 29, 2013

We’ve already seen drones shaped like various animals, including humming birds and dogs. Next is one made to look (and swim) like a jellyfish.

Cyro, which measures 5 feet 7 inches in diameter and weighs 170 pounds, moves through the water effortlessly, researchers say. Its design is based on Cyanea capillata, the giant lion’s mane jellyfish indigenous to the cold waters of Arctic, the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

It is being developed at a lab at Virginia Tech, funded by a grant from the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research. There’s a video at Geek.com, which says:

“Cryo consists of a central core of components in a waterproof shell connected to eight moving arms. Draped over this is a large and soft piece of white silicone, which comes into contact with each of the arms and remains flexible. Combined, the arms and silicone act as a propulsion system mimicking how real jellyfish move around.”

Discovery News says it will be used for “ocean monitoring, exploration, and even clean-up in the case of an oil spill”:

” … the team hopes Cyro can operate underwater continuously for weeks or even months. That’s the goal anyway. Next the engineers say they want to refine the robot, reducing energy consumption and improving its swimming abilities in collaboration with several partner universities.”

The article doesn’t say, but considering where the source of funding for the five-year project and Cyro’s superb ability to camouflage at sea, it would be a fair guess that it’s being considered for more than just taking water temperatures and cleanup. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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