A Caltech Library Service

Developing Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) for Free-swimming Tests in the Laboratory and in the Field

Xu, Nicole W. and Townsend, James P. and Costello, John H. and Colin, Sean P. and Gemmell, Brad J. and Dabiri, John O. (2021) Developing Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) for Free-swimming Tests in the Laboratory and in the Field. Bio-protocol, 11 (7). Art. No. e3974. ISSN 2331-8325. doi:10.21769/bioprotoc.3974.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Biohybrid robotics is a growing field that incorporates both live tissues and engineered materials to build robots that address current limitations in robots, including high power consumption and low damage tolerance. One approach is to use microelectronics to enhance whole organisms, which has previously been achieved to control the locomotion of insects. However, the robotic control of jellyfish swimming offers additional advantages, with the potential to become a new ocean monitoring tool in conjunction with existing technologies. Here, we delineate protocols to build a self-contained swim controller using commercially available microelectronics, embed the device into live jellyfish, and calculate vertical swimming speeds in both laboratory conditions and coastal waters. Using these methods, we previously demonstrated enhanced swimming speeds up to threefold, compared to natural jellyfish swimming, in laboratory and in situ experiments. These results offered insights into both designing low-power robots and probing the structure-function of basal organisms. Future iterations of these biohybrid robotic jellyfish could be used for practical applications in ocean monitoring.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
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, Brad J.0000-0001-9031-6591
Dabiri, John O.0000-0002-6722-9008
Additional Information:© 2021 The Authors; exclusive licensee Bio-protocol LLC. We gratefully acknowledge Cabrillo Marine Aquarium for providing Aurelia aurita medusae, and Angela Fan for illustrating the scientific artwork associated with this manuscript. This work was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Grant Number DGE-1147470, awarded to N.W.X. in 2015. The protocols are appended from the original manuscripts, Xu and Dabiri (2020) and Xu et al. (2020a). A. aurita are invertebrates that do not possess a brain, central nervous system, pain receptors, or nociceptors, and therefore do not require protocol review or approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). However, we took great care to ensure the welfare interests of these animals, in accordance to the precautionary and minimization principles to reduce the number of animals used and refine procedures to minimize potential distress. We also monitored the jellyfish and microelectronic systems to ensure that we introduced no additional electronic waste or other material into the ocean. Further information about our ethical views can be found in Xu et al. (2020b). Additional information is described for laboratory experiments in Xu and Dabiri (2020) and for field experiments in Xu et al. (2020a). The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1147470
Subject Keywords:Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, Robotics, Biohybrid robot, Swimming, Speed, Ocean monitoring
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210505-080416782
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Xu, N. W., Townsend, J. P., Costello, J. H., Colin, S. P., Gemmell, B. J. and Dabiri, J. O. (2021). Developing Biohybrid Robotic Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) for Free-swimming Tests in the Laboratory and in the Field. Bio-protocol 11(7): e3974. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3974
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:108971
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 May 2021 17:58
Last Modified:05 May 2021 17:58

Repository Staff Only: item control page