JEROS – swimming robot that controls overpopulated jellyfish population
A group of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a jellyfish removal robot named Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm (JEROS). This cooperative robot is designed to patrol the seas in swarms in order to detect and destroy jellyfish swarms. After four years of development, JEROS recently successfully finished its field tests.
Jellyfish appear to be on the increase globally, which may be part of a natural cycle or linked to factors caused by humans such as pollution, over-fishing or even climate change. For many years the increase in jellyfish population in coastal waters of South Korea has caused number of accidents and financial losses by fishing industry, estimated at 300 billion won ($279,900,000) per year.
JEROS floats on the water surface using two long cylindrical bodies with attached motors. It can move back and forth as well as rotate 360 degrees. After using geographic information system (GIS) based map data to specify the region for jellyfish extermination, the system automatically calculates the path for the task. The robot then navigates autonomously using a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and an inertial navigation system (INS).
As it is designed to work in swarms, there is no need for individual control of the robots. Only one robot requires the calculated path and the other robots will follow in a formation around it, communicating their positions wirelessly.
After testing at Gyeongnam Masan Bay, the researchers expect to further experiment and improve the performance at various environment and conditions. According to Hyeon Myeong, professor at KAIST Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, the field test results show that three swarm robots operating at 4 knots (7.2km/h) dispose jellyfish at the rate of about 900kg/h.
So how does it work? When it detects a swarm of jellyfish, JEROS catches them in a net and then sucks them into a propeller, which rips them apart. Although test results look promising when it comes to jellyfish destruction, I believe it is a very cruel method. If you ask me, the researchers should stop solving the symptoms of the problem of overpopulated jellyfish population and try to find and control causes of this difficulty.
JEROS technology can also be utilized for a wide range of purposes such as patrolling and guarding, removing waste in the sea or helping to prevent oil spills.