A South Korean research team has developed an autonomous aquatic robot designed to shred swarms of jellyfish to pieces.
By using GPS and a camera, the robot is led to swarms of the medusae, where it then activates it's blades and does to the jellyfish what a lawnmower does to grass.
As brutal as it may sound, the development team contends that it's a necessity as more and more jellyfish are in the ocean as a result of warming waters and overfishing.
In addition to providing painful and sometimes deadly stings, jellyfish are also causing harm to fishing operations, said researchers from the Urban Robotics Lab at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), noting in a news release that the yearly losses to local fisheries amounted to 300 billion won (about $280 million)
The robotic jellyfish terminator, which has been dubbed JEROS (for Jellyfish Elimination RObotic Swarm) can liquify about 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of jellyfish in an hour as it mows down an automatically determined path calculated to yield the most optimal kill rate in the swarm.
From the water's surface the JEROS look like metallic buoys, but suspended beneath the surface is a system of nets which trap jellyfish and funnel them to the blades at rear of the machines.
On a YouTube comment chain beneath an Urban Robotics Lab-uploaded video of the JEROS in action, one commenter equated the robot to a medieval torture device and said it did not belong in the modern age.
The lab was quick to respond to that comment, noting that jellyfish are not actually fish, but blobs of plankton with no brain or heart.
"Jellyfish have no bones, brain, or heart. And the harmful jellyfish are really a big problem. One child died by the sting of a poisonous jellyfish in Korea last year," the researchers wrote.
The JEROS robots are designed to work in tandem with one another, the researchers said in a statement, noting that only one of the robots will calculate how to best approach a jellyfish swarm, and others will follow in a formation around it. In field tests, the robots worked at speeds up to 4 knots (4.5 mph).
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