Leif Ristroph and Stephen Childress have just managed to create a unique aircraft on a small scale. The machine applies the principles of movement that a jellyfish uses to navigate underwater. The only difference is that this prototype works in the air. It floats in the air and even maintains its stability.
Most aircraft lose their balance when knocked off their main course. But this strange hovering object remains set in its upward journey through the atmosphere. It proves that Mother Nature is our first and foremost teacher. Especially when it comes to matters having to do with science and technology, we can never exhaust the depths of wondrous secrets held in store by this abundant God-given resource.
Journal of the Royal Society Interface states that they made "a hovering machine that achieves self-righting flight using flapping wings alone, without relying on additional aerodynamic surfaces and without feedback control. We design, construct and test-fly a prototype that opens and closes four wings, resembling the motions of swimming jellyfish more so than any insect or bird."
Watch the slow flapping video of jellyfish aircraft prototype with wing motions for low flapping frequency of 5 Hz.
It has four flapping wings which run on a central motor. And most of the materials that were required to manufacture it can be bought at any hardware store. While the flight of insects is a good source to imitate for aircraft, the instability of these little alien life forms proves to be a major hindrance. Yet turn to the life within the oceans and we have a perfect example of smooth motion in the form of the jellyfish.
Watch the video of jellyfish aircraft prototype hovering.
The contrast is only in matters of medium. A jellyfish uses water for locomotion while this new aircraft uses air for mobility purposes. By breaking the scientific mold and creating something fresh for a change, the two fellow scientists have shown that there are truly no limits. They exist in the mind only.