Known and hated for their painful stings and ability to shut down a nuclear reactor and threaten seaside economies, jellyfish will soon be hunted by a “terminator” robot.
Scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea, have developed a “jellyfish terminator” robot to detect the marine coelenterate and kill it, The Telegraph reports.
“Once jellyfish are detected using a camera, the jellyfish removal scenario is started with generating efficient path to remove the jellyfish,” team leader Professor Myung Hyun wrote in the journal Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. “Finally, the jellyfish is sliced up with the grid installed underneath the JEROS by following the generated path.”
Scientists started developing the robots three years ago after South Korea experienced jellyfish attacks along its southwest coast, where they clogged fishing nets and ate fish eggs and plankton, Discovery News reports. The Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm or JEROS has two motors that let it move forward, backwards and rotate at 360 degrees.
The first version of the robot was able to destroy 900 pounds of jellyfish an hour. The newer version can kill nearly 2,000 pounds in an hour while traveling at 4.6 miles per hour. Researchers plan on carrying out more field tests in the water to make sure the robots can withstand the ocean’s waves and use "cooperative jellyfish removal strategies."
“The assembly robots maintain a set formation pattern, while calculating its course to perform jellyfish extermination,” KAIST explains in a press release. “The advantage of this method is that there is no need for individual control of the robots. Only the leader robot requires the calculated path, and the other robots can simply follow in a formation by exchanging their location information via wireless communication.”
Besides their painful and sometimes deadly stings, jellyfish have become a nuisance – recently shutting down the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden. And scientists expect more shutdowns in the future, the Associated Press reports.
"It’s true that there seem to be more and more of these extreme cases of blooming jellyfish,” Lene Moller, a researcher at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, said. “But it’s very difficult to say if there are more jellyfish, because there is no historical data.”
Moon jellyfish, the species that shut down the Swedish nuclear plant, are particularly bothersome.
“It’s one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that … are overfished or have bad conditions,” Moller said. “The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don’t care if there are algae blooms, they don’t care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave … and (the moon jelly) can really take over the ecosystem.”