An underwater robot hunter has been built to seek out and ruthlessly destroy soaring numbers of jellyfish.
Jellyfish numbers are increasing at a rapid rate in some parts of the world, such as Japan, with sightings in British waters also becoming more common.
However, such vast numbers of the animals pose a risk to the fishing industry because they get caught up in nets, spoil catches and endanger cast and vessels.
With rising ocean temperatures and fewer natural predators, waters around Japan have in recent years been clogged with moon jellyfish and enormous Nomura’s jellyfish, which can grow to 6ft and weigh 440lbs.
So a team of researchers from Hiroshima Institute of Technology set out to create a 3ft-long, self-driving “jellyfish extermination device” to “suck and crush” the animals, before ejecting fragments of them back into the ocean.
The prototype was found to be highly competent at vanquishing the animals when tested in a laboratory. It will now be deployed in the wild in future experiments to see if it is able to hunt, hoover up and exterminate live populations.
The researchers wrote in the Journal of Japan Society for Design Engineering: “In this experiment, a jellyfish extermination device was mounted on [an] autonomous underwater vehicle, and a crushing experiment was conducted using a jellyfish sample which is made of water and gelatin.
“It was confirmed that a jellyfish sample with a diameter of about 7cm and a height of about 11cm could be crushed to small pieces, which has an average volume of 2,885.6mm cubed, during less than about eight seconds.”