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Researchers ­nveil Large Robotic Jellyfish That One Day Could Patrol Oceans

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Students testing a jellyfish-like robot under water.

Students from Virginia Techs National Science Foundation Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems test a 5-foot-wide jellyfish-like robot under water.

Credit: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech researchers have unveiled Cyro, an autonomous robotic jellyfish that measures five feet, seven inches in length and weighs 170 pounds. The robot is part of a multi-university, nationwide $5-million project funded by the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research.

Jellyfish are attractive to robotics engineers because they consume very little energy and inhabit every major oceanic area in the world.

"Biological and engineering results show that larger vehicles have a lower cost of transport, which is a metric used to determine how much energy is spent for traveling," says Virginia Tech researcher Alex Villanueva. "Our hopes for Cyro’s future is that it will help understand how the propulsion mechanism of such animal scales with size."

The robot must operate on its own for months at a time as engineers will not be able to capture and repair it. "Cyro showed its ability to swim autonomously while maintaining a similar physical appearance and kinematics as the natural species," says Virginia Tech professor Shashank Priya.

The robot also has the ability to collect, store, analyze, and communicate sensory data.

From Virginia Tech News
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