Scientists Successfully Create Bionic Jellyfish

Just last week, news broke out that a team of scientists given a budget by the U.S. Navy Seal was able to successfully make cyborg locusts by fitting the small insects with chips that can read their brain waves, which can then be useful for tracking bombs. And now, the spotlight has turned to jellyfish, with scientists recently being able to successfully “puppeteer” their movements and make them swim faster, essentially making a “bionic jellyfish.”

Bionic Jellyfish

Per the researchers, they were able to do this by taking artificial control with a microelectronic implant that enabled the jellyfish, which is a moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), to swim nearly threefold its original speed. Furthermore, the scientists were also able to achieve this by only using a tiny bit of external power, as well as twice the amount of metabolic effort from the aquatic invertebrate.

“Thus, this biohybrid robot uses 10 to 1,000 times less external power per mass than other aquatic robots reported in literature,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

But why jellyfish?

It’s actually quite simple. This is because, while robots that try and mimic the behavior of jellyfish require external power supplies and orders of magnitude, actual jellyfish are capable of self-healing, slow and steady, and are unencumbered by anything whatsoever. As such, being able to properly control in order to significantly expand the ways we have to expand ocean monitoring is a noble idea shared by many in the scientific field.

“Because jellyfish are naturally found in a wide range of salinities, temperatures, oxygen concentrations, and depths (including 3,700 m [12,100 feet] or deeper in the Mariana Trench), these biohybrid robots also have the potential to be deployed throughout the world's oceans,” the authors suggested in their paper.

That is, however, still ways away from now since the scientists are only able to enhance the swimming of the jellyfish without harming its health. Nonetheless, through this thinking, the scientists might just be able to make another breakthrough in their research.

As such, the scientists are hoping that this can be the key to finally exploring the ocean’s mysteries.

Jellyfish A compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella) moving in open water, on may 26, 2016 in Marseille, France. Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images