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