On a list of things we thought we would need a robot version of, jellyfish were somewhere around the absolute bottom. Science, however, works in some mysterious ways. Our latest advancement in technology is a robot that continuously propels itself, without really ever having to come back into human contact for a recharge. It just so happens that the creature whose shape best suited the experiment happened to be one of our prettiest and most gelatinous sea critters.
The “Robojelly”, which thankfully comes without any stinging power, is bell-shaped and relies on a combination of oxygen and hydrogen gases to contract and release its appropriately jelly-looking “muscle”. This “muscle”, according to an abstract featured in the April issue of Smart Materials and Structures consists of “nano-platinum catalyst-coated multi-wall carbon nanotube sheets, wrapped on the surface of nickel—titanium shape memory alloy.” While that’s practically Schi-Fi jargon for many to take in, the important part is that this combination makes the device capable of moving around in water. It makes its structure very close to that of a living jellyfish.