A team of engineers from Virginia Tech thinks this five-and-a-half-foot robot jellyfish could be the future of Navy underwater surveillance.
The autonomous robot has eight mechanical legs ringing its metal chassis, designed to mimic the underwater propulsion of a jellyfish, according to Danger Room.
Covered in silicone to replicate the jellyfish’s jelly, the Cyro weighs a staggering 170 pounds, all thanks to a five-year grant from the Office of Naval Research.
The robot is still a prototype, years away from being in the water. But it represents a new kind of testbed for oceanographic surveillance, the Cyro’s basic application. Like the bird- and insect-shaped drones the Air Force is developing, a jellyfish-like spybot has a natural stealth advantage. “Mimicking a natural animal found in a region allows you to explore a lot better,” says Alex Villanueva, a graduate student at Virginia Tech working on the Cyro.
And it’s also a launch-and-forget robot. There’s no remote controls on the Cyro. Place it into the water, and its roll-pitch-yaw sensor package, pressure sensors and software do the rest. That’s something for the Navy to think about as it considers designs for its forthcoming unmanned underwater vehicle fleet.