In recent decades, robotics are increasingly drawing inspiration from nature. Modern robots aim to replicate the biological processes and behaviors of animals as realistically as possible. This advancement allows them to effectively tackle real-world tasks.
Recently, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Indowra and the Indian Institute of Technology Jodchpur presented a robot that closely resembles a jellyfish in both form and movement. Their project, published in the International Journal of Intelligent Robots and Applications, has the potential to revolutionize marine ecosystem monitoring.
“We have developed a new flexible Meduza robot using polyamide and shape memory alloy (SMA),” state the researchers in their work. “The manufacturing process of tentacles with built-in wire SMA is usually time-consuming and labor-intensive. Our proposed structure is innovative, cost-effective, easy to produce, and significantly reduces the fabrication time compared to traditional methods.”
The researchers began by cutting 75-micron thick sheets of Kapton polyamide tape. This allowed them to shape the tape into a jellyfish body with a diameter of 25 cm. They then created holes in specific locations for the SMA wire, which is a type of metal that returns to its original form after being heated. The researchers used a type of SMA called nitinol, commonly found in cable connectors and other electronic components.
The nitinol wires were inserted into the pre-drilled holes and secured in place by attaching additional polyamide tape on top. The ends of each tentacle were connected to the center of the robot body using rubber thread.
The end result is a soft, flexible, and lightweight robot weighing only 45 grams. The technology is created using readily available materials and can be easily replicated on a large scale. Initial tests of the prototype showed excellent performance, with the robot moving at a horizontal speed of 10 mm/s and a vertical speed of 0.2 mm/s in water.
“The results demonstrate that the proposed method can successfully simulate the movement of a jellyfish and can be utilized in underwater research,” concluded the scientists. “The first prototype is equipped with a built-in camera and a sonar sensor