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Technology

Remote-Controlled Flying Jellyfish!

DiscoblogBy Lizzie BuchenApril 30, 2008 9:09 PM

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(click here if the video isn't working)

No, it’s not the second coming of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

—but it's just as awesome. AirJelly

, a remote-controlled helium balloon, was built by engineers at the Swiss Materials Science & Technology Development (EMPA) in Dübendorf, who were inspired by the jellyfish’s endurance through evolutionary time

. The balloon weighs just under 3 pounds, including a central electric drive unit and two lithium-ion polymer accumulator batteries, which can be completely charged in half an hour—beating every Earth-bound remote-controlled car from my childhood by about seven hours. The jelly is also the first air balloon to move by peristaltic motion—the same way that gets food to your stomach after you swallow. (And the same way it comes back up, if something goes wrong.) In this case, peristalsis is achieved by those eight tentacles, which consist of ribs powered by “fluidic muscles

,” (pdf) and allows AirJelly to move in any spatial direction. Get more information here

(pdf) about the mechanics—not, to my great sadness, about how to obtain one.

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