Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Robotic Jellyfish May One Day Patrol Oceans

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Robotic Jellyfish May One Day Patrol Oceans

Article excerpt

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers have unveiled a lifelike, autonomous robotic jellyfish the size and weight of a grown man: 5 foot 7 inches in length and weighing 170 pounds.

The body of the prototype robot, nicknamed Cyro, consists of a rigid support structure with direct current electric motors that control the mechanical arms, creating hydrodynamic movement. Cyro's skin is a thick, squishy layer of silicone placed over a bowl-shaped device containing the electronic guts. When moving, the skin floats and moves with the robot, looking weirdly alive.

Cyro is a larger version of a robot the same team--headed by Shashank Priya of Blacksburg, Virginia, and professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech--unveiled in 2012. "A larger vehicle will allow for more payload, longer duration, and longer range of operation," said Alex Villanueva, a doctoral student working under Priya.

Both robots are part of a multiuniversity, nationwide, $5 million project funded by the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research. The goal is to place self-powering, autonomous machines in waters for the purposes of surveillance and monitoring the environment, in addition to other uses such as studying aquatic life, mapping ocean floors, and monitoring ocean currents. …

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