PROVIDENCE – The journey that brought Jack Costello to futuristic technology began on the shores of Long Island, where he came of age in the 1960s. Costello loved swimming but hated jellyfish, which would become his adult passion – a passion of intense interest today to the Navy and the National Science Foundation, which help fund his research.

That hatred is but a memory now, replaced with an appreciation, if not love, for the creatures’ remarkable facilities.

Jellyfish and related animals, the Providence College scientist will tell you, propel themselves with an extraordinary energy efficiency no man-made machine comes close to achieving. That economy incorporated into a pioneering type of propulsion could keep a submersible vehicle prowling underwater for far longer than anything manufactured today.

Speed would be sacrificed, but the benefits would outweigh that cost.

“Jellyfish are not fast,” Costello says, “but on the on the other hand, if you’re energy-limited, which some ‘autonomous vehicles’ are – they really can’t stay out long because they run out of energy -” then nature could play genius in guiding the design of a human-built vehicle.

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