A case of technology imitating nature can be found in Festo’s AquaJelly robot, a test bed that has been modelled on the jellyfish.
Developed as part of the German company’s Bionic Learning Network, the AquaJelly is an artificial autonomous jellyfish, complete with translucent hemisphere and eight tentacles, an electric drive and an intelligent, adaptive mechanical system.
In the centre of the AquaJelly is a watertight pressure vessel that comprises the electric drive, two lithium-ion-polymer batteries, a charge control device and servo motors for a swashplate which controls a four-arm pendulum that steers the robot.
Under water: the AquaJelly communicates with other robots up to 80cm away
Electrically-powered, it uses short-range radio standard ZigBee to communicate with a charger located above the water basin and to alert other AquaJellies on the surface if it is occupying the charger.
Meanwhile, under water the AquaJelly communicates with other robotic jellyfish up to 80cm away using 11 infrared light-emitting diodes. The pulsed infrared position signals are sent from inside an almost spherical structure around the AquaJelly, which approaching robots use to carry out evasion manoeuvres.
Equipped with a range of environmental sensors, the AquaJelly also has internal devices to monitor its energy level and a pressure sensor which allows it to gauge its depth in the basin with millimetre accuracy.