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A jellyfish like robot paves the way for the new generation of soft underwater robots. Developed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, this new underwater robot is capable of swimming stealthily without disrupting sensitive marine creatures that rely on sound to communicate.

This hand-sized robot moves using electrohydraulic actuators that act as artificial muscles.

“We achieved grasping objects by making four arms function as a propeller, and the other two as a gripper. Or we actuated only a subset of the arms, in order to steer the robot in different directions,” said Hyeong-Joon Joo, co-author of this study, in an official release.

These artificial muscles are protected by air cushions and soft and rigid material for stability and waterproofing. Electricity is supplied via thin wires to enable swimming, causing the artificial muscles to contract and expand.

It comprises several layers to improve the robot’s performance, such as keeping it stiff when needed, insulated, and afloat. The current speed of the Jellyfish-Bot prototype is approximately 6.1 cm/s, with a power of approximately 100 mW.

The currently used underwater robots are typically bulky, noisy, and harmful to the environment; however, this prototype overcomes these challenges and can easily pick up small waste. This energy-efficient robot can also retrieve delicate samples such as fish eggs or objects like a face mask from the ocean floor. Furthermore, two robots can collaborate to pick up more heavy waste.

Research reported by