Robot jellyfish could be surveillance tool

March 28, 2013 at 4:53 PM
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BLACKSBURG, Va., March 28 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers have unveiled a large robotic jellyfish they say could autonomously patrol oceans for surveillance and environmental monitoring.

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers say their robotic device, dubbed Cyro, is 5-foot, 7-inches in length and weighs 170 pounds.

Cyro is a follow-on to an earlier robot dubbed RoboJelly that was about the size of a man's hand and typical of jellyfish found along beaches, a Virginia Tech release said Thursday.

"A larger vehicle will allow for more payload, longer duration and longer range of operation," doctoral student Alex Villanueva said. "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."

Both Virginia Tech robots were developed as part of a multi-university, nationwide $5 million project funded by U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research.

The goal is to create self-powering, autonomous machines that can travel the world's ocean for surveillance, monitoring the environment, studying aquatic life, mapping ocean floors and monitoring ocean currents, researchers said.

Cyro showed its ability to swim autonomously while maintaining a similar physical appearance and kinematics as the natural species," Virginia Tech project leader Shashank Priya said.

Cyro is simultaneously able to collect, store, analyze, and communicate sensory data, he said.

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