Researchers at the Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a robotic jellyfish, Robojelly , which they believe will efficiently duplicate a natural one. In the face of it, Robojelly is quite like the aquatic beauty, you’ve seen before, but, get close and you see a hydrogen-powered robot with eight “contracting” muscles that spew forward helping Robojelly to move further. According to the research report, published in Smart Materials and Structures, Robojelly is completely an experimental venture, at the moment, which is fueled by chemical reactions that occur between its nickel–titanium shape memory alloy skin and the hydrogen and oxygen present in the water. This process helps Robojelly generate heat, which it uses to expand and contract its eight muscles.
Robojelly in action! (Image credit: BBC News)
The best part, however, remains to be the robotic jellyfish’s fuel capabilities. If one had to solely rely on reports, then the robotic jellyfish may never have to be powered. Quoting from the research report published in Smart Materials and Structures, “Artificial muscles powered by a renewable energy source are desired for joint articulation in bio-inspired autonomous systems. In this study, a robotic underwater vehicle, inspired by jellyfish, was designed to be actuated by a chemical fuel source. The fuel-powered muscles presented in this work comprise nano-platinum catalyst-coated multi-wall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) sheets, wrapped on the surface of nickel–titanium (NiTi) shape memory alloy (SMA).” Believably, Robojelly is the first of its kind to have been powered by external hydrogen, which makes its working all that more impressive.
The areas, where Robojelly would fit in aptly are just numerous. For one, its makers wish to see it do wonders as an underwater rescue vehicle; and the brilliance of one needn’t be elaborated. However, at least at the moment, Robojelly is not fully ready, for its makers while have managed to make the Robojelly's muscle segments make flex movements, a lot still needs to be done as far as developing it enough to specifically control each muscle segment, allowing Robojelly to have better control over directions, is concerned
To view the Robojelly in action, click here.