1. ITV Report

'Flying jellyfish' drone designed by scientists

The new flying machine mimics the swimming motion of a jellyfish. Photo: Reuters

A "flying jellyfish" machine capable of stable hoovering through the air has been developed by scientists.

The device, a new form of "ornithopter" has "wings" that push downwards instead of flapping, mimicking the puling movements of a swimming jellyfish.

The machine, which may lend itself to the development of small unmanned drones, is featured in the Journal of Royal Society Interface.

Previous attempts to design a mini-flying machine have focused on the flight of insects such as dragonflies, but the wing-flapping motion of insects has proved inherently unstable when adapted into the drone form. Previous insect inspired drones have been over-complex, requiring active control systems or high-drag tails and sails to stabilise them.

In contrast, the flying jellyfish is intrinsically able to keep upright and recover from disturbances during hovering and other manoeuvres. The four-winged prototype tested by the scientists is four inches long, weighs 0.07oz, and is controlled by wire from the ground.

Writing in the Journal Of The Royal Society Interface, the team, led by Dr Leif Ristroph from New York University, said:

These results show the promise of flapping flight strategies beyond those that directly mimic the wing motions of flying animals.