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Virginia Tech researchers publish study on jellyfish energy consumption that will improve bio-inspired robotic designs for Navy
Date:10/19/2013

hnology. Priya's team led computational modeling efforts, taking video of the jellyfish movements filmed in laboratory water tanks, and translating that information to computer animation.

The computer modeled jellyfish unlike the real gelatinous zooplankton filmed in lab settings -- allows researchers to control movements of the creature however fast they wish, and in any desired direction. The virtual effort is similar to performance capture filming of actors for later computer-animated visual effects for such films as "The Lord of the Rings."

Computer modeling was spearheaded by Colin Stewart of Charlottesville, Va., a doctoral student in Virginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering. Stewart said it was "remarkably difficult" to capture the flexibility and soft edges of the jellyfish into a full, controllable computational framework versus a more rigid body such as a shark or a human swimmer whose movements modeled because of their joints.

Jellyfish have long been known as having a simple muscular makeup and being inefficient swimmers that rely on the current flow of water to navigate. Yet, the ability to conserve energy even while moving may help explain why jellyfish are bloom and inundate ecosystems, or even man-made systems, such as ports and dockyards.

The study results will allow the research team including Danesh Tafti, the William S. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech to better design life-like autonomous robotic jellyfish that are part of a U.S. Office of Naval Research-funded project investigating the science of bio-inspired vehicles with a focus on understanding the natural propulsion mechanisms in sea life.

Priya, Stewart, Tafti, and their team hope to replicate the unique forward propulsi
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Contact: Steven Mackay
smackay@vt.edu
540-231-4787
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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