In an issue of the journal Science Advances, researchers from Caltech and Stanford have revealed a remarkable new advancement in the field of bionics. Using a microelectronic device that attaches electrodes to a jellyfish subject, they were able to use low frequency pulses to encourage the animal to swim faster than it normally would.
By stimulating muscles contractions in the fish, researchers were able to magnify the speed of the animal by up to 2.8 times faster than is natural. Dismissing fears of creating harm or undue stress to the animal, scientists report that the main indicator of stress - mucus secretion - have not been recorded during this study. The device itself uses wooden barbs which mimic the nerve bundles of the jellyfish and are easily removed with no permanent effects.
One possible use for this technology could be the development of “biohybrid robots” for exploring the deepest parts of the ocean. Jellyfish are extremely efficient swimmers and this research could offer key insights into developing new exploratory drones.
There is even the possibility, if the technology can be refined further, of using jellyfish themselves for this exploration. Cyborg jellyfish could be the pathfinders of a new initiative unlocking the secrets of the deep.