Jellyfish or a robot?
With bionic arms and super energy, these creatures may seem to have emerged from a sci-fi novel. But wait, these are real, and developed by our very own earthen scientists.
California scientists looking for new ways to explore the world’s oceans have created a cyborg jellyfish — half animal, half robot — that can swim nearly three times faster than a regular jellyfish, and which one day might be remotely steered to collect information from deep ocean waters.
Engineers at Stanford University and Caltech in Pasadena say the sci-fi jellyfish may rekindle memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator, but could actually help expand our understanding of the deep seas. These “biohybrid robots” are raising ethical questions as well as amazing possibilities.
Jellyfish are primitive invertebrates that have changed little in 500 million years. They don’t have brains, lungs or a central nervous system. And they weren’t harmed during the experiments, which took place in tanks on the Stanford campus.
These animals are 95% water. It’s kind of like poking your finger in Jell-o.
Like a tiny cardiac pacemaker, the device sent out pulses of electricity. Jellyfish that typically swim about 4 feet per minute, nearly tripled their speed because electric jolts made their bodies pulse faster. Yet, they used just twice as much energy, measured by the amount of oxygen they consumed.
You know that jellies are soft-bodied and lack a skeleton, and rarely make fossils but there is evidence that jellyfish predate dinosaurs by some 400 million years!