Field testing of biohybrid robotic jellyfish to demonstrate enhanced swimming speeds
Biohybrid robotic designs incorporating live animals and self-contained microelectronic systems can leverage the animals’ own metabolism to reduce power constraints and act as natural chassis and actuators with damage tolerance. Previous work established that biohybrid robotic jellyfish can exhibit enhanced speeds up to 2.8 times their baseline behavior in laboratory environments. However, it remains unknown if the results could be applied in natural, dynamic ocean environments and what factors can contribute to large animal variability. Deploying this system in the coastal waters of Massachusetts, we validate and extend prior laboratory work by demonstrating increases in jellyfish swimming speeds up to 2.3 times greater than their baseline, with absolute swimming speeds up to 6.6 ± 0.3 cm s−1. These experimental swimming speeds are predicted using a hydrodynamic model with morphological and time-dependent input parameters obtained from field experiment videos. The theoretical model can provide a basis to choose specific jellyfish with desirable traits to maximize enhancements from robotic manipulation. With future work to increase maneuverability and incorporate sensors, biohybrid robotic jellyfish can potentially be used to track environmental changes in applications for ocean monitoring.
Xu, N., Townsend, J., Costello, J., Colin, S., Gemmell, B., & Dabiri, J. (2020). Field testing of biohybrid robotic jellyfish to demonstrate enhanced swimming speeds. Biomimetics, 5 (4) https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics5040064
National Science Foundation