Engineers at Caltech and Stanford University have developed a tiny prosthetic that enables jellyfish to swim faster and more efficiently than they normally do, without stressing the animals. The researchers behind the project envision a future in which jellyfish equipped with sensors could be directed to explore and record information about the ocean. Jellyfish do not have a brain or pain receptors, but they have been found to secrete mucus when stressed, and no such secretion was observed in this experiment. In addition, the jellyfish went back to swimming normally once the prosthetic was removed.
The research represents a “middle ground” between two veins of bioinspired robotics work that Prof. John Dabiri has been involved in for the past decade, both at Caltech and Stanford.