[credit:Hyun Myung/KAIST via ieeespectrum]
Parts of South Korea's coast are apparently plagued by large swarms of jellyfish. Swarms large enough to be "responsible for about US $300 million in damage and losses to fisheries, seaside power plants, and other ocean infrastructure." Professor Myung and his team of experts at KAIST have designed, developed, and tested a robot at Gyeongnam Masan Bay, the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm (JEROS), to autonomously seek and shred jellyfish, as a pack of hunter-killers.
With the aid of computer vision/object recognition, these robots (three prototypes have been made) can identify jellyfish near the ocean's surface, regroup in formation near the swarm, and proceed to shred at a rate of approximately 900kg of jellyfish per hour.
Whether or not this is sufficient to be effective is yet to be determined. However, as these robots are designed to work cooperatively, Professor Myung maintains that adding more units to the pack should not be a problem. Besides jellyfish eradication, the robots "may also be utilized for other purposes including marine patrols, prevention of oil spills and waste removal in the sea."
I would certainly be interested in what marine biologists such as researchers at the NOAA or Deep Sea News would say about the feasibility and impact of such drones on overall marine life. If it does work, I wonder if it is only a short term solution. The underlying reasons for jellyfish blooms have yet to be addressed definitively.