There are lots of things humans don't do well, or can't do at all. They can't stop killing each other. They can't create and maintain a complex society which doesn't have sorts of inequality and unfairness built right into it. They can't stop themselves from killing off other species and destroying the ecosystems large & small upon which they depend. They can't stop making babies unless they're also consuming all sorts of stuff. Speaking of stuff, they certainly can't stop themselves from consuming lots of it, given the means and opportunity to do so, etc., etc., etc.
It's a long list. But By God...
... humans can build a life-like autonomous robot jellyfish like nobody's business!
The prototype robot, nicknamed Cyro, is a larger model of a robotic jellyfish the same team — headed by Shashank Priya of Blacksburg, Va., and professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech — unveiled in 2012. The earlier robot, dubbed RoboJelly, is roughly the size of a man's hand, and typical of jellyfish found along beaches.
"A larger vehicle will allow for more payload, longer duration and longer range of operation," said Alex Villanueva of St-Jacques, New-Brunswick, Canada, and a doctoral student in mechanical engineering working under Priya. "Biological and engineering results show that larger vehicles have a lower cost of transport, which is a metric used to determine how much energy is spent for traveling"...
Damn! This larger jellyfish allows for more payload, not to mention longer duration and a longer range of operation. Seriously, could we ask for anything more?
Jellyfish are attractive candidates to mimic because of their ability to consume little energy owing to a lower metabolic rate than other marine species. Additionally, they appear in wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, allowing for several designs. They also inhabit every major oceanic area of the world and are capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures in both fresh and salt waters. Most species are found in shallow coastal waters, but some have been found in depths 7,000 meters below sea level...
How does the robot swim?
Its body consists of a rigid support structure with direct current electric motors which control the mechanical arms that are used in conjunction with an artificial mesoglea, or jelly-based pulp of the fish's body, creating hydrodynamic movement.
With no central nervous system, jellyfish instead use a diffused nerve net to control movement and can complete complex functions. A parallel study on a bio-inspired control system is in progress which will eventually replace the current simplified controller. As with the smaller models, Cyro's skin is composed of a thick layer of silicone, squishy in one's hand. It mimics the sleek jellyfish skin and is placed over a bowl-shaped device containing the electronic guts of the robot. When moving, the skin floats and moves with the robot, looking weirdly alive.
Weirdly alive. The robot jellyfish is modeled after the so-called "natural" jellyfish Cyanea capillata, also called the Lion's Mane jellyfish.
A curious yet cautious diver approaches a lion’s mane jellyfish off the British Columbia coast. The tentacles that make up this jelly’s “mane” can deliver a painful and even potentially fatal sting. But such toxins don’t deter several fish species from feeding on the ample bulk of the cold water-loving jellyfish. Source: National Geographic
But seriously, things are looking grim. Homo sapiens may not see the close of the 21st century. Why on Earth would humans want to build a robotic jellyfish in the first place? The Los Angeles Times has the answer.
But why make a robotic jellyfish in the first place?
The researchers at Virginia Tech – along with colleagues at at UCLA, Stanford University, Providence College in Rhode Island and the University of Texax at Dallas – have a $5-million grant from the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research to develop autonomous robots that can ply the oceans.
Robotic jellyfish like Cyro could one day conduct undersea military surveillance. They might also be deployed to monitor the environment or clean up oil spills.
Well ... uhhhh ... are those good reasons? ... I mean ... hmmm ... I don't know about this ... don't we have better things to do?
But that's not the gung-ho spirit we're looking for here.
Why climb that mountain? Because it's there! Why fuck up the oceans? Because they're there!
Why build a life-like autonomous robot jellyfish? Because we can! We love it, and we're good at it too!
Technology is the hammer, and to humans, everything looks like a nail.
You might take a look at my post The Limits Of Free Will In Human Action, but don't worry about this stuff because...
It's all good.