A recent dramatic rise in jellyfish numbers throughout the world is concerning many involved in ocean-based industries, which is exactly why South Korean scientists have developed a robot that targets these floating creatures for extermination. According to the Daily Mail, the Jellyfish Elimination Robot Swarm (JEROS) can kill nearly 2,000 pounds of jellyfish per day. Although it may seem a drastic solution to jellyfish blooms, scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s Urban Robotics Lab say it can help mitigate millions of dollars in losses.
Warm ocean temperatures have brought jellyfish populations to all-time highs. These animals may look harmless enough, but any diver or beach-goer stung by one can attest to their more harmful nature. Even more important, jellyfish feed on fish young and other small marine life. As their numbers increase, jellyfish are liable to paralyze entire ecosystems by consuming large numbers of species such as cod. Commercial and sport fishing are not the only industries affected by jellyfish, nuclear power plants that have submerged facilities can also be damaged. Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear plant made headlines this week when a swarm of jellyfish forced technicians to shut down a reactor. The sheer numbers of jellyfish traveling through nearby waterways resulted in a clog in one of the nuclear plant’s cooling pipes, which served to keep the plant’s turbines cool.
Scientists hope to use JEROS near vulnerable locations such as the Oskarshamn nuclear plant to keep jellyfish numbers low. JEROS is designed to operate automatically as a set of three robots floating on the surface of the water. The robots are capable of detecting jellyfish and deploying a net to capture the gelatinous animals before they are destroyed. You can see a video of the robots on patrol below: