Editorial Feature

Robotic Swarm Pulverizes Jellyfish Traffic in the Ocean

Image Credits: Photos.com

Professor Myung Hyun at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has worked alongside a team of researchers to develop a Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm (JEROS) designed to isolate jellyfish and aid them into a net. JEROS was developed to tackle the growing problems associated with a surge of jellyfish blooms causing havoc in the ocean’s ecosystem.

JEROS is an unmanned underwater robot that was developed over the last three years. This surface vehicle is designed to have a grid of frames and thin wires to help slice passing jellyfish. The GPS system navigates the JEEROS system to detect the swarm of jellyfish using a camera and integrated vision processing algorithms. The robot then uses this technology to map out a path leading it towards the jellyfish cluster.

On an economical scale, the JEROS system is three times more cost effective to use for the removal of jellyfish compared to manual methods as it can travel at speeds of 7 mph and pulverizes 400kg of jellyfish per hour.

Due to the rise in the ocean’s jellyfish population, these invertebrates are starting to occupy fishing areas and costal resorts. The Jellyfish Removal system is a major development effort to help tackle this issue: “To overcome this problem, a jellyfish removal system with trawl boats equipped with the jellyfish removal net has been suggested." – Professor Myung Hyun.

Rotating screws underneath JEROS help shred the jellyfish. Video courtesy of urobotkaist.

Jellyfish blooms have become a major problem for the fishing industry. Aggregation of jellyfish is growing at an alarming rate, which can have implications for local business particularly closing down tourist locations around coastal areas.

Jellyfish detected by JEROS using image processing techniques. Video Courtesy of urobotkaist.

Recently there have been reports of jellyfish swarms invading the Oskarshamn Swedish Nuclear Power Plant which forced operators to close the reactor after finding a large mass of jellyfish blocked in a pipe that delivers cool water to the reactor’s turbines.

One of the major challenges ahead for the JEROS will be to ensure all other sea life is not caught up in the pulverization of jellyfish as these gelatinous animals will attract many other species (predators) in the ocean. Long-term application of JEROS will provide a detailed observation of how this system benefits the fishing industry on a wider scale and what impact this has on the ocean’s ecosystem inhabited by jellyfish.

Sources and Further Reading

  • Richardson A.J. et al. The jellyfish joyride: causes, consequences and management responses to a more gelatinous future. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 2009;24(6):312-322.
  • Kim D, et al. Experimental Test of Autonomous Jellyfish Removal Robot System JEROS. Robot Intelligence Technology and Applications. 2012: 395.

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