The video: Robots inspired by the animal kingdom come in all shapes and sizes, but are you ready for this jelly? Scientists from Virginia Tech are working on an underwater soft-tissued robot, nicknamed "Robojelly," that takes its cues from jellyfish. The robot triggers a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to provide the energy its carbon nanotube "muscles" need to contract like the invertebrate it's named after and propel the machine through seawater. (Watch a demonstration below.) "What's water?" asks researcher Alex Villanueva. "It's hydrogen and oxygen. So you've got [a potentially] infinite source of fuel." Scientists are excited about employing such a self-sustaining underwater robot for ocean monitoring, pollution tracking in spills, and advanced underwater reconnaissance work for the Navy.
The reaction: Robojelly is "one of the first and best demonstrations of a combination of nanotechnology, hydrogen-fuel technology, and soft robotics," Xin Chen of Boston University tells Discovery News. Perhaps, but more simply put, Robojelly is "squishy awesome," says Amanda Kooser at CNET. And it could end up being a first-class underwater spy. "Who's going to look twice at an amorphous jellyfish blob? Keep that in mind the next time you plan to go skinny-dipping in the ocean." Take a look:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The weird obsession that's ruining the GOP
- Why Peter Capaldi has a bigger challenge than any Doctor Who in history
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The secret to Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing grilled cheese sandwiches
- A scientific fact-check of 2001: A Space Odyssey
- What if The Purge was real?
Subscribe to the Week