Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created a “Wow” factor robotic device that runs on hydrogen. This device is being dubbed RoboJelly because it looks like a jellyfish and mimics its movements.
The futuristic prototype is fueled by both hydrogen and oxygen which not only makes up water in the ocean but also can be found as trace elements as well. The RoboJelly could in the future be used for military surveillance or scientific purposes.
The researchers decided to create this robotic jellyfish because it can be run on hydrogen and has few natural predators. It would be a waste of time and money to launch a RoboJelly only for it to be eaten.
According to Popular Mechanics, “The jellyfish mimic moves with artificial muscles, whose core is made of nickel and titanium, which is a shape-memory alloy (a ‘memory metal’ that remembers the shape at which it was cold-forged and will return to that shape). Most memory metals contract to their original shape when they encounter electric current, but this one contracts when heated. It does this through carbon nanotubes that are wrapped around the metal and coated with tiny platinum filaments. When the platinum filaments are exposed to hydrogen and oxygen gas, the platinum acts as a catalyst that drives the two gases to react and form water and heat. The heat makes the metal contract, causing the umbrella-like head of the jellyfish to deform and expel water from within the bell. That’s what propels the robot forward. Elastic material in the bell then pulls the “jellyfish head” back to its original position as it glides along …
“Currently the device is fueled by hydrogen and oxygen fed to it by large tanks in the lab. But that could change in the future. While the ocean is obviously home to lots of hydrogen and oxygen locked up in H20, there are also small concentrations of hydrogen and oxygen gas throughout the ocean, and it’s possible to create a device that could run on these and have a renewable fuel supply. Perhaps more feasibly, though, the robot could carry naturally occurring microbes that synthesize these gases.”
So, even though hydrogen-powered cars may be years into the future, hydrogen powered forklifts, laptops, cell phones, cell phone towers, corporate buildings, homes and now even robotics are happening and development is occurring at a rapid pace.
Hydrogen-powered cars may take longer to enter into the marketplace than we currently want. But, hydrogen power has already entered the marketplace in the form of machines and devices, vehicles, large office buildings and homes and this trend will continue to grow at a mind-blowing pace over the next 5 – 25 years.