Discover a lightweight, flexible robot resembling a jellyfish, designed for marine life observation and underwater tasks.
Over the past few decades, robotic experts have crafted advanced robots that draw inspiration from nature and living beings. By closely mimicking biological functions and the behaviours of animals, these robots are adept at manoeuvring through various settings and efficiently addressing real-world challenges.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Indore and the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur have developed a robot inspired by biology that resembles and moves like a jellyfish. The robot has the potential for remote marine life observation or other underwater tasks.
To create the robot, the team began by slicing 75 μm-thick Kapton polyimide sheets into a shape mirroring the body of a jellyfish, spanning 25cm in diameter. They subsequently created holes in this design at designated spots to accommodate the shape memory alloy (SMA) wires later. SMAs possess a unique characteristic: they revert to their initial shape when heated after deformation. For their robotic creation, the team employed nitinol, a type of SMA often used in crafting devices, cable connectors, and various electronic parts.
The researchers threaded the nitinol through the pre-made holes in the jellyfish-shaped structure. They then affixed an extra layer of polyamide tape atop the robot to secure the wire. Rubber strings were subsequently used to link the end of each tentacle to the robot’s central body. The team’s jellyfish-mimicking robot is lightweight, weighing a mere 45g, and boasts flexibility and softness. Made from cost-effective and readily available materials, it holds the potential for large-scale production. In its preliminary testing, the robot successfully navigated horizontally at 10 mm/s and vertically at 0.2 mm/s.
In the future, enhancements can be made to this novel robot, customising it for specific uses and paving the way for commercialization. Such advancements can address various practical challenges in navigating and monitoring aquatic settings.
Reference: M. Muralidharan et al, Bio-inspired soft jellyfish robot: a novel polyimide-based structure actuated by shape memory alloy, International Journal of Intelligent Robotics and Applications (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s41315-023-00291-1