Soft Condensed Matter Seminar

Soft Condensed Matter Seminar

Robotic control of live jellyfish swimming to enhance propulsion



February 13, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Howey School of Physics





Stanford University

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Artificial control of animal locomotion has the potential to address previously inaccessible questions about the biology of swimming organisms and animal-fluid interactions, where we are otherwise limited to observations of natural behavior. This work presents a biohybrid robot that uses a self-contained microelectronic system to induce swimming in live jellyfish. By driving body contractions at an optimal frequency range faster than observed in natural behavior, swimming speed can increase nearly threefold, with only a twofold increase in cost of transport to the animal. Furthermore, this robotic system uses 10 to 1000 times less external power per mass than existing swimming robots in literature. This capability can potentially be leveraged in applications such as ocean monitoring, and to enable further studies of swimming organisms in more user-controlled, systematic experiments.