Researchers building submarine robot to exterminate problematic jellyfish

REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
A moon jellyfish is seen at the Aquarium Pula, Croatia, July 25, 2018.

A researcher team has been working on the development of a submarine robot that exterminates jellyfish, aiming at controlling jellyfish populations that negatively impact the fishing industry.

The team intends to conduct demonstration tests in the sea after April 2024, and the researchers hope the robot will eventually be put into use and help reduce damage to fisheries.

In recent years, frequent population of moon jellyfish and giant Nomura’s jellyfish in waters around Japan have become problematic for fisheries. They destroy fishing nets, tarnish fish caught in nets and can cause up to ¥10 billion of damage per year.

The team led by Ahn Jong-hyun, an assistant professor of marine robotics at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology, has been putting together a moon jellyfish exterminator robot. The umbrellas on such jellyfish can grow up to 30 centimeters in diameter.

The robot, 1.1 meters long and weighs about 30 kilograms, uses an ultrasonic sensor to locate jellyfish and is equipped with artificial intelligence to analyze sensor data. If the robot determines that it has located jellyfish, it activates a specialized hose to suck up the jellyfish and cuts them into pieces with a propeller.

The robot automatically navigates underwater to a depth of 50 meters for a maximum of three hours.

Experiments have shown the robot was able to suck up an artificial jellyfish made of gelatin and process it within 10 seconds, according to the team.

With a grant of about ¥5 million from the government, the team ramped up the robot’s development. The researchers plan to carry out experiments in the sea, including Seto Inland Sea and waters off the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture, in 2024 or later.

“The robot will help reduce the burden on fishers who have to manually remove jellyfish caught in their nets. In the future, we want to develop a robot that can exterminate giant Nomura’s jellyfish,” Ahn said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An illustration : Schematic of jellyfish exterminator robot