April 2, 2013 Scott Neuman / National Public Radio & Matthew Humphries / Geek.com
The Pentagon has been busy building drones in the shape of various animals, including hummingbirds and dogs. Now, taxpayer-dollars are being spent to build a robot jellyfish. Cyro, which measures 5 feet 7 inches in diameter and weighs 170 pounds, moves through the water effortlessly. The faux jellyfish could be released into the world's oceans to conduct covert surveillance.
(March 29, 2013) -- This five-and-a-half-foot robot jellyfish could be the future of Navy underwater surveillance. Seriously. Maybe. Certainly, if a team of engineers from Virginia Tech gets its way.
US Navy Funding Development Of Giant Jellyfish Robot Scott Neuman / National Public Radio
(March 29, 2013 3:15 PM) -- 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 US 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.
(March 29, 2013) -- Talk about military surveillance and images of unmanned drones come to mind. But typically they are air and ground based units. The US Navy wants to get in on the action, though, and has tasked Virginia Tech College of Engineering with developing an autonomous robotic jellyfish.
The project has been ongoing since last year thanks to a 5-year grant from the Office of Naval Research. A lab in Virginia Tech's Durham Hall has been outfitted with a tank containing 600 gallons of water that forms the hub of the research. The task is to figure out how a jellyfish functions, and then apply it to a robotic version that could be launched and left to function in the ocean for anything from a few weeks to months and even years.
The first version of this robotic jellyfish was unveiled last year at the lab. It was called Robojelly and was roughly the diameter of a man's hand. Several months later and a second version has been created. This time the robot is called Cryo, measures 5 foot 7 inches in length, and weighs 170 pounds.
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.
There's still a lot of work to do on the design, though. Allowing the jellyfish to remain autonomous means the 4 hours it currently gets from an on-board nickel metal hydride battery needs to be improved drastically. But the research team still has 3 years of grant money with which to solve that problem, perfect propulsion, and make this a truly autonomous unit.
Uses aren't just limited to surveillance, either. The jellyfish could be loaded up with sensors to become an ocean research device, or help with clean up operations after an oil spill.
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