Our image of the day is in fact a series of images of a soft robot inspired by a larval jellyfish (scyphomedusae ephyra) going through its paces.
And it’s pretty convincing.
Though just a few millimetres in size, it can manipulate the water flowing around its body to complete a series of tasks, such as selectively transporting beads of different sizes to mimic food catching, burrowing into fine beads to escape from “predators” or target objects, mixing different fluids, and generating a chemical path in its wake.
It is the work of Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, who report on its potential in a paper in the journal Nature Communications.
They created it by connecting a magnetic composite elastomer core with a diameter of three millimetres to eight bendable lappets (flaps). When an oscillating magnetic field is applied, the lappets contract and recover like a swimming jellyfish.
The authors suggest their design could also be used as a model system to help understand how changes in the environment impact the survival of ephyra jellyfish.