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Jellyfish aircraft: Undulating aircraft a light flying device, 'robotic insect'

Jellyfish aircraft: Undulating aircraft a light flying device, 'robotic insect'
Jellyfish aircraft: Undulating aircraft a light flying device, 'robotic insect'
Twitter, NewsMax Photo

A jellyfish aircraft is one ultra-light flying device that is undulating its way into the sky this week. Closely resembling the actual movement of the water-bound jellyfish, this machine has been called a “robotic insect” of sorts that can literally fly through the air and even right itself when touched. NewsMax shares the interesting history behind this creation built by New York University scientists this Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

The jellyfish aircraft weighs only .07 ounces, but can do quite a lot with such little weight. The light and tiny device is something that those at the Applied Math Labs are touting as the very first of its kind, and its sheer design is enough to turn heads.

"We were interested first of all in making a robotic insect that would be an alternative to the helicopter," Leif Ristroph a fluid dynamics researcher at NYU's Applied Math Lab, told Agence France-Presse. "Our interest ended up being a little bit weird — it was the jellyfish."

With a very basic nervous system and an apparent lack of a brain, the jellyfish is one animal that has been of great interest and appreciation from those experienced in engineering due to its smooth and efficient form of movement. In an attempt to manipulate this motion from the seas to the skies, the idea for a jellyfish aircraft stirred in the minds of these advanced thinkers.

In the miniscule flying machine, a tiny motor is connected to a crankshaft that enables the four cornerstone wings (no more than four inches long) to push themselves upward and outward, much like the actual animal itself. With air being pushed through a specially designed cone at the base of the aircraft, this enables the device to propel itself through the air in an undulating manner (much as a jellyfish might move through the water).

Stability might be this particular drone’s greatest selling point, as it can often correct itself mid-flight when necessary.

"If it's knocked over, it stabilizes by itself," Ristroph said in a statement. “When it needs to change a certain direction, one wing works harder than the rest to alter its new course.”

The materials used to build the flying jellyfish aircraft weren’t that complex either, and could be bought at most locales right over the counter from a hobby store.

"We were inspired in part by videos from the 1900s, in the early experimental days of flying. They were very creative in those days, they had lots of very good ideas, but also some bad ones," Ristroph finished on this new "insect" of the air.

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