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An artist’s rendition of jellyfish fitted with electronic devices that make them swim faster while they take measurements in the deep ocean. (Rebecca Konte/ Caltech)

CA - Cyborg jellyfish? California scientists create sci-fi sea creature to explore oceans

Stanford and Caltech researchers make jellyfish swim faster with microchips, tiny batteries and electric pulses

California scientists looking for new ways to explore the world’s oceans have created something that seems right out of a Hollywood movie: a cyborg jellyfish — half animal, half robot — that can swim nearly three times faster than a regular jellyfish, and which one day might be remotely steered to collect information from deep ocean waters.

Engineers at Stanford University and Caltech in Pasadena say the sci-fi jellyfish may rekindle memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator, but could actually help expand our understanding of the deep seas. These “biohybrid robots” are raising ethical questions as well as amazing possibilities.

“We’re trying to take the best of what biology does naturally,” said John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at Caltech,  “and combine it with the best of what we can do as engineers and hopefully get the best of both worlds.”

Jellyfish are primitive invertebrates that have changed little in 500 million years. They don’t have brains, lungs or a central nervous system. And they weren’t harmed during the experiments, which took place in tanks on the Stanford campus, Dabiri said.

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