New Robot to Combat Invading Jellyfish

Photo by: Mathew Winchester/ Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, a nuclear reactor in southeast Sweden suffered a large-scale attack—by jellyfish. An enormous swarm of moon jellies pulsed their way through the high seas to the world’s largest reactor, where they were sucked into a pipe 60 feet below the Baltic Sea’s surface. These tiny invertebrates, ranging from two to 15 inches in diameter, clogged a debris screen and caused the four-day shutdown of Unit 3 of the Oskarshamn Nuclear Plant.

Fortunately, no Swedish electricity was lost, no humans were stung, and no radioactive jellies were pumped back into the ocean. But this is just the latest indication that jellies are becoming a serious problem. The resilient creatures have a freakish ability to adapt; they’re thriving despite increasing ocean acidity and marine pollution, and they have few predators. In recent years large swarms of the cnidarians have disabled war ships and caused such extensive electrical problems in the Philippines that residents thought a coup had toppled their government.

If only there were a way to slice and dice the massive jelly smacks (yes, that’s what you call a group of jellies). Enter South Korean robotics Myung Hyun. He’s invented an unmanned jellyfish removal system that uses a GPS to track and attack swarms, and then shred them. The newest version can slice up to 2,000 pounds an hour. Check out this video below to see JEROS, the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm, in action.


Until JEROSes are deployed worldwide, beachgoers would probably be wise to keep vinegar at hand to remedy stings. Although scientists can’t confirm whether jellyfish populations are actually rising or if they’re peaking during a boom-and-bust cycle, the moon jellies are out there, and their six-and-a-half-foot-long tentacles will get you.