first_imgStay on target Jellyfish may harbor potentially life-changing secrets. But they’re too bloody difficult to collect and study.Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, however, have a plan.Together with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Baruch College at CUNY, they developed an ultra-soft underwater gripper that uses hydraulic pressure to gently — but firmly — wrap noodly fingers around a single jellyfish, then release it without causing harm.Six thin, flat strips of hollow silicone are attached to a 3D-printed plastic “palm”; when the channels fill with water, they curl in the direction of the inner nanofiber-coated side.The fingers each exert an extremely low amount of pressure: less than one-tenth of a human’s eyelid on their eye.“Our ultra-gentle gripper is a clear improvement over existing deep-sea sampling devices for jellies and other soft-bodied creatures that are otherwise nearly impossible to collect intact,” first author Nina Sinatra, a former graduate student at the Wyss Institute, said in a statement.Last year, Harvard scientists built an origami-inspired device to gently trap and release sea creatures.The machine, dubbed Rotary Actuated Dodecahedron (RAD), acts like an underwater Venus flytrap, drawing an animal in and automatically closing around it.This time, researchers adhered their gripper to a hand-held device—reminiscent of those reaching litter pick-up tools. They tested it first in the lab on an artificial silicone jellyfish, before moving on the real thing at the New England Aquarium.The umbrella-shaped critters reportedly showed no signs of stress or adverse effects upon release from the claw.“Marine biologists have been waiting a long time for a tool that replicates the gentleness of human hands in interacting with delicate animals like jellyfish from inaccessible environments,” according to co-author David Gruber, a professor at Baruch College and a National Geographic Explorer.“This gripper is part of an ever-growing soft robotic toolbox that promises to make underwater species collection easier and safer,” he continued. “Which would greatly improve the pace and quality of research on animals that have been under-studied for hundreds of years, giving us a more complete picture of the complex ecosystems that make up our oceans.”The device is detailed in a paper published this week by the journal Science Robotics.Watch This Next: This Helpful Micro-Robot May Be the Cutest RobotMore on Robot to Monitor Delicate Ocean CreaturesDivers Spot Giant Jellyfish the Size of a Human Off British CoastJellyfish Chips and Seaweed Dip, Anyone? Evan Rachel Wood Just As Disturbed by Humanoid Sophia As Everyone ElseCIMON Returns to Earth After 14 Months on ISS last_img

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