Robot Swarm's Mission: Kill Jellyfish

South Korean 'bots aim to catch them in nets and slice them up

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 4, 2013 7:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – Flesh-shredding robots that can devour 2,000 pounds an hour may sound like the stuff of horror movies, but they're very real and come with a purpose: kill jellyfish. Engineers in South Korea are working on something called the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm to cut down deadly attacks on humans, losses to fisheries, and, yes, even nuclear plant closures, reports Discovery. It's big business, notes Fast Company: South Korean marine industries lost an estimated $300 million because of jellyfish in 2009 alone. Though still in the tinkering stage, the makers hope to commercialize the robots by next year.

So how do they work? Equipped with a GPS and camera to detect jellyfish swarms, three robots travel together on the surface via propulsion motors, scooping up jellyfish in submerged nets. A shredding propeller takes care of the rest—think of it as a "jellyfish terminator," explains the Telegraph. (On behalf of the jellyfish, Discovery's Alyssa Dangelis writes that while "judicious and closely monitored checks on jellyfish swarms" seem warranted, the creatures shouldn't be eradicated.) Also in the works: Figuring out how the system might be used for other purposes, like cleaning up trash from the sea. (Maybe it could tackle one of those floating "plastic patches"?)

A giant jellyfish drifts off Kokonogi in western Japan.
A giant jellyfish drifts off Kokonogi in western Japan.   (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)
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The Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm's blades in action.   (YouTube)

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