Study of Jellyfish to Improve Robotic Designs

A national study has deciphered how jellyfish move with the lowest cost of transport of any animals and makes them one of the most energetically efficient natural propulsors on the planet. The findings will allow researchers to continue to design bio-inspired jellyfish for the U.S. Navy.

The research resulted in finding that jellyfish don’t move continuously through water while swimming, but there is a critical pause between the contraction and expansion of their bell-shaped body to create a vortex that pushes them forward. The research team will use these findings to better design life-like autonomous robotic jellyfish that are part of a U.S. Office of Naval Research-funded project investigating the science of bio-inspired vehicles and the understanding of national propulsion mechanism in sea life.

The study was led by the Marine Biological Laboratory, Virginia Tech, Providence College, Roger Williams University and California Institute of Technology.

Read more about how the team hopes to replicate this forward propulsion to design a vehicle that uses the least amount of battery power to travel greater distances.