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Robot Jellyfish Swimming At Museum Of Science And Industry For Robot Week

By Sam Cholke | April 3, 2016 8:13am | Updated on April 4, 2016 8:28am
Robot Jellyfish Museum of Science and Industry
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — Robotic jellyfish glide around in a large cylindrical tank of water for the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual celebration of National Robotics Week.

Automation firm Festo has brought in many of its research robots inspired by animals in nature for this year’s robotics week, now through April 10 at the museum, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.

“We have a whole zoo of bionic animals,” said Michael Guelker, a product manager for Festo.

He said the robotic animal projects are meant to help inspire new approaches to robotics at the Arlington Heights-based company.

Guelker pointed out how the gently pulsating tendrils of the jellyfish robots were similar in structure to the gripper fingers on the end of a long robotic arm, which could bend and twist like an elephant’s trunk.

Reporter Sam Cholke refuses to believe the robots will soon take over.

“Why we do this is we’re trying to learn from animals in nature,” Guelker said.

Museum leaders said they try to bring in robots from a variety of disciplines and university-led groups were scheduled to start coming in on Saturday.

“We like to always get something in that pushes the envelope,” said Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections and head curator at museum. “Getting a water robot was a dream and it’s really awesome because people wouldn’t assume robots and water go together.”

Other robots scheduled to come to the museum HyTAQ, a robot designed at the Illinois Institute of Technology that can fly using four helicopter rotors and then land and roll around like a giant hamster ball, which will come to the museum this coming Saturday.

The robot demonstrations are included with the cost of admission to the museum.

For a full schedule of robotics week events, visit the museum’s website.


The inspiration for the gripper fingers on this robot came while designing robot jellyfish, while the arm is inspired by an elephant's trunk.


Paro is a therapeutic robot designed to behave almost like a pet for people who can't be around animals.

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