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“Beating the eight tentacles together produces almost the same effect as ejecting water out of the hollow bell of a jellyfish,” said Fischer. AirJelly uses a weight mounted on a two-axis pendulum to pitch and roll the craft. Fischer says pilots of fixed-wing aircraft wouldn’t have much trouble learning AirJelly’s controls. “AirJelly is really easy to fly,” he said. “You merely have to control the propulsion and the direction of the pendulum. When you wish to land, you only have to cut off the propulsion.” It sounds interesting, but is it practical? Will AirJelly sister ships be flying, or perhaps, swimming through skies soon? While no plans have been made to mass-market an AirJelly derivative (only three have been built), Fischer says a fullsize, passenger-carrying balloon with tentacles wouldn’t be difficult to conceive. “The advantage could be greater maneuverability than with standard gas balloons,” says Fischer, adding that a major drawback of modern balloon designs is that they aren’t steerable. Fischer also sees AirJelly being employed as a UAV, perhaps as an unmanned drifting aerial platform.
Heavier-than-air versions of AirJelly are out of the question though. “A lot of thrust must be generated,” he said. “We are not thinking in that direction at the moment.” While it may be slightly impractical, AirJelly is truly a sight to behold. “AirJelly has a beauty of motion all of its own, “ said Fischer. “It shows that we can learn much more from biology and transfer it to technology.”
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