Say hello to Robojelly, a robot that moves like a jellyfish, expanding and contracting its synthetic muscles to pump out water.
The most impressive thing about it, however, is how it powers itself — by converting the hydrogen and oxygen naturally found in water into heat. The idea is that these artificial jellyfish could basically swim around indefinitely, performing surveillance for the military or monitoring the ocean for pollutants.
Robojelly, created by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech, is made out of two “bells” composed of silicone and connected by “muscles” made out of platinum-coated carbon nanotubes filled with nickel-titanium alloy. Heat and water vapor are created once the oxygen and hydrogen hit the platinum.
It’s also environmentally friendly, according to the University of Texas:
“We’ve created an underwater robot that doesn’t need batteries or electricity,” said Dr. Yonas Tadesse, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas and lead author of the study. “The only waste released as it travels is more water.”
What’s preventing these robots of the sea from being deployed today? They aren’t flexible enough yet, and their muscle segments can only move in unison, meaning they’re slow and can only move in one direction.