Funded by the Office of Naval Research, scientists at Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas have created an undersea vehicle inspired by the common jellyfish that could be used for military surveillance.
To add to that, the robot runs off hydrogen and oxygen gases found in water, thus not needing fuel.
“We’ve created an underwater robot that doesn’t need batteries or electricity,” said Dr. Yonas Tadesse, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas. “The only waste released as it travels is more water.”
Robojelly consists of two bell-like structures made of silicone that fold like an umbrella. Connecting the umbrella are muscles that contract to move. Researchers upgraded the original, battery-powered Robojelly to be self-powered through a combination of high-tech materials, including artificial muscles that contract when heated.
The muscles are made of a nickel-titanium alloy wrapped in carbon nanotubes, coated with platinum and housed in a pipe. As the mixture of hydrogen and oxygen encounters the platinum, heat and water vapor are created. That heat causes a contraction that moves the muscles of the device, pumping out the water and starting the cycle again.