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Meet Cyro, the robotic jellyfish that will haunt your dreams

Engineers at Virginia Tech are working on a gigantic, synthetic robo-jellyfish, which could eventually have military applications. 

By Matthew Shaer / March 29, 2013

Students at Virginia Tech tinker with Cyro, a robotic jellyfish.

Virginia Tech

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If you're frightened of the ocean, or the creatures that lurk beneath the waves, we recommend that you read no further. 

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According to the Los Angeles Times, engineers at a Virginia Tech lab are working on a giant, synthetic, robo-jellyfish, which one day could autonomously patrol the high seas. The project, which is funded by a $5-million grant from the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research, has already yielded one workable prototype: a 170-pound monster nicknamed Cyro. 

Geek.com reports that Cyro measures more than five feet in length, and behaves very much like its organic counterpart: 

Cryo consists of a central core of components in a waterproof shell connected to eight moving arms. Draped over this is a large and soft piece of white silicone, which comes into contact with each of the arms and remains flexible. Combined, the arms and silicone act as a propulsion system mimicking how real jellyfish move around.

A video produced by Virginia Tech indicates that Cyro could eventually be used to keep tabs on ecologically-sensitive underwater areas or to help clean up oil spills. Jellyfish, after all, are extremely efficient swimmers – they require less energy than, say, a large fish to keep moving. Still, we stand by our original point. Regular jellyfish are scary enough. Robotic jellyfish? The stuff of horror flicks – or at least spy movies. 

"Imagine," writes Matt Peckham of Time Magazine, "a fully-realized version of such a robot running underwater surveillance missions for the U.S. Navy – the marine version of a weaponless drone, in other words, perhaps poking around someone’s oceanfront property (or, heaven forbid, employed in a civilian capacity by ignoble paparazzi to stalk celebrities)." 

In related news, here's a compendium of horror movies that include jellyfish. Among them: the 1965 epic "Sting of Death." 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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