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. 

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

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. 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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