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Field Testing of Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish to Demonstrate Enhanced Swimming Speeds

Xu, Nicole W. and Townsend, James P. and Costello, John H. and Colin, Sean P. and Gemmell, Bradford J. and Dabiri, John O. (2020) Field Testing of Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish to Demonstrate Enhanced Swimming Speeds. Biomimetics, 5 (4). Art. No. 64. ISSN 2313-7673. PMCID PMC7709697.

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Biohybrid robotic designs incorporating live animals and self-contained microelectronic systems can leverage the animals’ own metabolism to reduce power constraints and act as natural chassis and actuators with damage tolerance. Previous work established that biohybrid robotic jellyfish can exhibit enhanced speeds up to 2.8 times their baseline behavior in laboratory environments. However, it remains unknown if the results could be applied in natural, dynamic ocean environments and what factors can contribute to large animal variability. Deploying this system in the coastal waters of Massachusetts, we validate and extend prior laboratory work by demonstrating increases in jellyfish swimming speeds up to 2.3 times greater than their baseline, with absolute swimming speeds up to 6.6 ± 0.3 cm s⁻¹. These experimental swimming speeds are predicted using a hydrodynamic model with morphological and time-dependent input parameters obtained from field experiment videos. The theoretical model can provide a basis to choose specific jellyfish with desirable traits to maximize enhancements from robotic manipulation. With future work to increase maneuverability and incorporate sensors, biohybrid robotic jellyfish can potentially be used to track environmental changes in applications for ocean monitoring.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemData/Code CentralArticle
Xu, Nicole W.0000-0002-1649-8718
Townsend, James P.0000-0002-4782-6083
Costello, John H.0000-0002-6967-3145
Colin, Sean P.0000-0003-4463-5588
Gemmell, Bradford J.0000-0001-9031-6591
Dabiri, John O.0000-0002-6722-9008
Additional Information:© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Received: 30 September 2020; Revised: 5 November 2020; Accepted: 19 November 2020; Published: 21 November 2020. We would like to acknowledge Cabrillo Marine Aquarium for providing A. aurita medusae, Valerie A. Troutman and Jennifer L. Cardona for their help in shipping animals from Stanford, CA, to Woods Hole, MA, and V.A.T.’s additional help with data analysis and manuscript editing. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awarded to N.W.X. Author Contributions: N.W.X. and J.O.D. conceived the study and edited the manuscript; B.J.G. and N.W.X. conducted preliminary tests in the Atlantic Ocean to preempt diver field experiments; J.P.T., J.H.C. and S.P.C. conducted subsequent field experiments as scientific scuba divers; N.W.X. conducted field experiments from the laboratory and on shore, performed the data analysis, and wrote the initial manuscript. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Jellyfish, biohybrid robot, swimming speed, ocean monitoring
Issue or Number:4
PubMed Central ID:PMC7709697
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200928-133921951
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Xu, N.W.; Townsend, J.P.; Costello, J.H.; Colin, S.P.; Gemmell, B.J.; Dabiri, J.O. Field Testing of Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish to Demonstrate Enhanced Swimming Speeds. Biomimetics 2020, 5, 64
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105589
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Sep 2020 21:00
Last Modified:04 Dec 2020 17:11

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