Jellyfish Relative Could Improve the Design of Swimming Robots

The Nanomia bijug is a gelatinous marine animal related to jellyfish that uses a dozen or more independent jets to swim. This design enables two swimming styles: one that syncs all of the jets up for increased speed and another that powers jets individually to save energy. The dual-swimming capabilities—which are exclusive to the Nanomia‘s siphonophores taxa as well as barrel-shaped salps—could inform and improve underwater vehicles. While swimming robots have been inspired by the jet-propulsion of aquatic animals before, the unique multi-segmented Nanomia could inspire new robotics design wherein various independent components enable different modes of motion. Because the Nanomia can oscillate between fast or energy-efficient, “it gives a framework for developing a robot that has a range of capabilities,” says Dr Kevin Du Clos, a researcher at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, University of Oregon who co-authored a new PNAS study. Read more about it at Cosmos Magazine.

Image courtesy of the Sutherland Lab