This machine hunts down and then chops up jellyfish.

Jellyfish appear to be on the rise around the world, some marine experts believe, linked to warmer and more oxygen-depleted ocean waters.

In South Korea, in 2009, they caused an estimated $300 million in economic loss to marine-related industries.

The resulting robot, named JEROS (short for the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm), floats on the water’s surface and has motors and a special jellyfish-pulverizing propeller attached.

JEROS detects jellyfish swarms and plans its path of attack using a camera and GPS system and then it traps them in a submerged net before ingesting them.

Myung designed the system so that three robots could travel together and act as one.

2013-10-03

Co.Exist

These Robots Hunt Jellyfish--And Then Liquify Them With Rotating Blades Of Death

Huge herds of roaming jellyfish are becoming a huge problem in our ocean, causing millions of dollars in damage and injury and death. The JEROS Robot will hunt them down and kill them.

Killer robots are a dead serious moral issue. In its “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots," a global coalition is urging the United Nations to ban the emerging technology of weaponized drones that kill without human intervention. The hope is to forestall an age of “mechanical slaughter.”

But when the wrath of killer robots is aimed at a scourge to all of humanity--jellyfish--maybe there is a better case to be made.

Jellyfish appear to be on the rise around the world, some marine experts believe, linked to warmer and more oxygen-depleted ocean waters (though some scientists dispute that this is a trend). At the very least, the impacts of large blooms are becoming more visible. The gelatinous creatures made headlines this week for clogging the cooling pipes of a nuclear reactor in Sweden, causing it to shut down--a phenomenon that is growing into a global problem.

In South Korea, in 2009, they caused an estimated $300 million in economic loss to marine-related industries, says Hyun Myung, director of the Urban Robotics Lab at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. That's around when he began working on a robot that can kill them. He saw the robots as a cheaper alternative to plans to trap them in nets attached to large trawl boats.

The resulting robot, named JEROS (short for the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm), floats on the water’s surface and has motors and a special jellyfish-pulverizing propeller attached. JEROS detects jellyfish swarms and plans its path of attack using a camera and GPS system and then it traps them in a submerged net before ingesting them.

Myung designed the system so that three robots could travel together and act as one. In a field test in August in South Korea’s Masan Bay, together the three robots shredded about 900 kilograms of jellyfish an hour, he says, at a lower cost than manual ship-based removal methods.

The team is planning to commercialize the robots by next year after tinkering with JEROS some more. They are also exploring other uses, such as patrolling or guarding waters, oil spill prevention, or marine debris removal. These killer robots could indeed help combat the growing plague of jellyfish (a child died on the beach in South Korea last year) and save governments money, too. However, listening to the mechanical sounds of the shredding in the video above is eerie nonetheless.

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19 Comments

  • Sam Shovel

    It seems a majority of the posters here have one thing in common with these jellyfish: Brains!  

  • sbrewster

    This is a poorly written and sensationalist article. For example "a child died on the beach in South Korea last year" - how does this compare to deaths from jelly fish in the last 50 years? Also, "Jellyfish appear to be on the rise around the world, some marine experts believe" - can you cite a source for this? The link to the case against is based on scientific research.

    And shouldn't we address the cause rather than getting overexcited about a new technology that could have a long-term detrimental impact on the environment. Look at what happend when sea otters were hunted http://www.theguardian.com/com...

  • Chris Tar

    Is jellyfish flesh still dangerous after it's been shredded? Is this possibly causing a problem where people can get stung more easily because they can't see the shredded jellyfish flesh suspended in the water? 

  • ojonegro

    Something else to mention in these comments: Human overpopulation is false, an idea created by an 19th century scientist named Thomas Malthus, who also claimed  not all races are the same and that the "bad" races must die out to make room for the "good" ones. I would suggest not bringing up human population over a story about jellyfish eradication. 

  • Rick Marro

    I hope they don't realize the HUMAN population growth anytime soon ! 

    In looking to increase my social media presence I figure it would be a good idea to post on the top 10 stories of the week and invite people to follow me on Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+ -------- thank you for such a great article I plan to save it and use it in the future.

  • Mary Harte

    okay, a little biology here: jellyfish reproduce through cloning of polyps on sea bottoms, and at least one actually can re-assemble itself when broken apart... so just how useful will these robots be?

    Perhaps the real test of these bots is surveying the sea area before and one year after they're out there, chomping away, AS WELL AS surrounding sea areas, and see how that is affecting jellyfish populations...

    Additionally, unless these bots are solar powered, their energy usage is contributing to the climate change that fosters jellyfish takeover (besides the overfishing; anyone taking notes?) 

    Really, this is pitifully laughable. As a previous commentor noted, time to go after the root causes, not the symptoms...

  • Edward Sanchez

    Would have been nice to explain WHY Jelly Fish populations are growing so fast, things like this don't just happen in nature out of no where.
    The reason is fishing. There are 10x less fish in the ocean today than there were 100 years ago. That's 10% of fish left. Over 1 trillion fishes a year are killed.
    What does this have to do with it? The food chain is greatly affected. Fish often feed on jelly fish spores and prevent them to ever growing into adults. With less predators to eat them, they basically take over the ocean.

    So, rather than shredding jelly fish alive, how about we solve the root of the problem and make fishing illegal? Not like we have any biological necessity to consume flesh of any kind. I haven't eaten flesh for 15 years and am super fit.

  • ToddHuge

    As an Earthian, I'm saddened we've come to this.  Throughout history, humans have always dominated 

  • Lorelle Marie

    mechanical slaughter because of overpopulation because humans are overpopulated and causing injury and home loss for the rest of life on earth, but we're pissed at jelly fish for doing the same.

    Looks useful and well developed though.
    we just shouldn't be surprised when trios of robots come to kill us all ;)

  • Brad F.

    If you read the article closely, you'd understand that there are too many jelly fish now. They're breeding at too fast a rate, and this is a way to help combat it.

    This is a great invention.

  • silkdragon

    I have mixed emotions on this. On one side, I feel sad that these jellyfish were killed, but on the other hand, they did cause a serious issue. So this is a "damn if you do, damn if you don't" situation.

  • Dylan Fries

    We should maybe look at why the oceans marine life is changing so quickly rather then just shredding it because it interferes with industry. Releasing autonomous drones to shred things just seems like a bad idea, how does it tell the difference between a jellyfish and some other living thing?