Friday, November 17, 2017

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Multi University Research Initiative  

Jelly Fish Autonomous Node and Colonies: Modeling biological structure and behavior, System Architecture Design and Implementation


Team Summary:


Figure 1: Structure of MURI team. The core team members (funded through this program) are from five universities – Virginia Tech, U Texas Dallas, U California LA, Stanford University, and Providence College. The team will actively collaborate with John Blottman and colleagues at Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport , RI. This will be useful to the team for meeting the requirements and specifications outlined for the UUV programs in Naval environments.

Project Summary  

“Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) – Concepts of Operations for the 21st Century” highlights the importance of “networking of self-aware, autonomous sensor fields coupled with manned and unmanned kill vehicles that will shift ASW from platform-insensitive to sensor-rich operations”. The incarnation of such a technology will be complex and challenging and limited if pursued using traditional approaches. In order to address these requirements and capabilities in the autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV’s), we take inspiration from nature where every system is complex, but yet elegant and efficient. In this research program we propose to develop colonies of autonomous sea vehicles “Jellyfishes”, by integrating the fundamental knowledge and science from the diverse disciplines including biomechanics, micro/nano-fluidics, carbon nanotube yarns and textiles, polymeric nanocomposites, electrical and fuel powered artificial muscles, energy harvesting, magnetoelectrics, bio-molecular power sources, polymeric sensors, organic electronics, energy efficient computation, and underwater/surface communication systems.



We will learn and understand the form, structure and functionality of natural Jellyfishes and adopt them in our AUV. We envision that our Jellyfish fleet would be ubiquitous at persistent surveillance of undersea environments. It would be a mobile and small platform on which various sensor technologies could be deployed to strategic locations, that could be networked with other units and provide information back to Command. Jellyfish colonies will be employed from “pre to post-hostility operations” conducting tasks ranging from “influencing threat behavior” to supporting “locate and destroy” mission. Further, the “building blocks” developed for Jellyfish will find multiple uses in both defense and civilian environments



Wide range of smart polymeric materials and structures at micro to nanoscale will be studied in this research program.  Analytical and computational modeling work will be used to suggest new combinations of biomechanical structures, links and joints, which will be replicated by experiments and characterized. We will develop the model for hydrodynamics by incorporating micro-fluidics and jellyfish locomotion to design vehicle mobility in X-Y-Z plane. We will develop the understanding of communication among Jellyfishes within a colony and than use it to develop communication systems for purposes of fine-scale coordinated actuation and cooperative communication with external entities. The experimental work will require advanced sample fabrication, micro/nano structural characterization, and various electrical – chemical – optical measurement techniques available to the team at their home institutions.  Smart electronics based on organic semiconductors and novel materials will be developed to perform neural functions, generate and manage power, and communication. The proposed research promises to have a significant impact on both fundamental biomechanics and sea vehicles technology.


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