Jellyfish Terminator Robots Suck Up 2,000 Pounds Of Jellies Per Hour

Researchers in northern Asia are looking for automated ways to deal with jellyfish blooms.

So this is a team of unmanned swimming robots designed to scour an area and grind up all the jellyfish they find. And they’ve got the chops (literally) to suck up jellyfish at a rate of 900 kilograms—nearly 2,000 pounds—an hour.

The invention comes from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Engineer Hyeon Myeong and colleagues developed it to help clear fishing waters of jellyfish blooms. Jellyfish populations have exploded over the past 10 years as overfishing opened up new ecological spaces for jellies, Yale Environment 360 reported in 2011. Jellies are a part of many healthy ocean ecosystems, but if an area has too many of them, the blobby predators will further deplete fish populations by gobbling up fish eggs and plankton fish would otherwise eat. They’re especially a problem in northern Asia. In Korea, they cost the fishing industry 300 billion won (about $280,000) a year, according to KAIST.

The jellyfish-eradicating bots, called Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm or JEROS, feature two motors that move them forward and backward and rotate them 360 degrees. Users program the robots to tell them what area they want cleared and then drop the bots into the water. The JEROS have cameras to help them see where jellyfish blooms are. They also automatically calculate their own routes and motor around in formation without human help. Once they encounter jellyfish, JEROS suck the jellies up and shred them with a propeller.

Myeong’s team has been working on JEROS since 2009, according to KAIST. This year, the engineers got several robots to cooperate in formation to shred jellies more efficiently.