Matty-Sways

Scientists are trying to develop cyborg jellyfish to facilitate ocean exploration.

Nicol Xu and John Dabiri are two researchers at Stanford University. They have worked to determine how they can develop the Aurelia aurita, a species of jellyfish, into a cyborg.

Jellyfish lack a brain and move through the ocean by propelling itself. Along the periphery of the jellyfish’s belly there are neural pacemakers that send signals allowing for the jellyfish to propel itself. Xu and Dabiri wanted to know if it would be possible to control those pacemakers and in turn control the movements of a jellyfish.

As a result, they developed a pacemaker that could be attached to the body of a jellyfish and override the internal neural pacemaker system of a jellyfish. They found that their pacemaker could make a jellyfish propel itself at almost three times its normal velocity while using the half the energy typically spent when propelling at normal speed.

However, the artificial pacemaker is unable to control the speed at different ranges and it is not able to steer the jellyfish. Once that technology is developed, ocean exploration will be more easily facilitated. Eventually, scientists hope to attach data collection instruments to a jellyfish and steer it to previously inaccessible depths of the ocean.

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