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Departments | F U T U R E F L I G H T

By Pete Muntean

M

aybe that’s why aviation visionaries and innovators aren’t looking to the sky for shapes of future flying machines, but underwater. Enter Festo, a German-based automation and biometrics company. They’ve blended two century-old balloon technology with the organic movement of a jellyfish to create an entirely new (not to mention unusual) design called AirJelly. Festo’s Head of Corporate Design and AirJelly Project Manager Markus Fisher says that the company thought it was necessary to study the motion of jellyfish and other non-winged creatures, like snakes, as inspiration for transportation. “We thought there could be some interesting principles to learn here.” The result oozes cool factor. AirJelly is entrancing to watch. “We have not seen such beautiful motion from a man-made creature before,” said Fischer. The remote-controlled proof-of-concept design thrusts itself through the air with the aid of eight paddle-tipped tentacle arms attached to AirJelly’s helium-filled transparent head. A synchronized pulse of the arms the gracefully pushes the 2.8-pound machine skyward.

Photos courtesy of Festo

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 0

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PilotMag-May/June 2010  

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