It seems like the U.S. Navy is getting all the cool toys these days. Hot on the heels of the Saffir humanoid firefighting robot, comes Robojelly.
Robojelly may sound like the business half of a sandwich for Cylons, but it's actually a robotic jellyfish.
If we accept the premise that robots are inherently cool, we have to extrapolate that underwater robots based on gelatinous sea creatures are extra cool. Robojelly is the nickname for a project under development by The University of Texas at Dallas and Alex Villanueva at Virginia Tech for the Office of Naval Research.
The robotic critter is biomimetic, so it's designed to work a lot like a real jellyfish. The tech behind Robojelly can be described with the fun technical term "shape memory alloy composites actuators." Loosely translated, this means Robojelly mimics the muscle action of a jellyfish with flexible smart materials that reform to its original shape.
Robojelly looks and acts like a biological tentacle-y creature, but it has made one big improvement. The robot is hydrogen-powered, so it theoretically could just keep on keeping on as long as it has hydrogen and oxygen from water to convert to energy.
The primary mission for the Robojelly is likely to be surveillance. Who's going to look twice at an amorphous jellyfish blob? Keep that in mind the next time you plan to go skinny-dipping in the ocean.