Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech have created an underwater robot that mimics the movement of a jellyfish. RoboJelly, as it has been dubbed, uses the hydrogen and oxygen gases from water as its fuel. So, theoretically, it would never run out of energy!
To make the robot move, the researchers covered a shape memory alloy, or smart metal (an alloy that "remembers" its original, pre-deformed, cold-forged shape), with multi-walled carbon nanotubes coated with a nano-platinum catalyst powder. When a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen contact the platinum, an exothermic reaction results, which causes the smart metal to change its shape. When the "muscles" relax, the alloy returns to its original form. No electricity, no batteries, and the only waste released is more water - super cool!
This research is sponsored by the US Navy in the hopes that it can be used in underwater rescue missions, or for surveillance purposes.