1. stevieinthecity#9dac9 says

    Beautiful! it would be nice to have them just floating around the city.

  2. Brownian, OM says

    Oh, like wow. I totally just had a flashback to those Man O’ War jelly thingies in NetStorm.

  3. momkat says

    It made me happy, and I can see how you’d find it cool, what with it’s octopodian structure, but is it one of those “just because we can things” or does it have a useful purpose?

  4. Gregory Greenwood says

    “Yeah, they look all petty now, but just you wait ’til they are floating serenely overhead, vapourising everything the pass over with underslung death rays! Damn egg-heads with their damn air-squids of death! Not in my town, no siree!”

    Come on, we all know there are survivalist whackos paranoid enough to believe just about anything. Even air-squids of death…

    Back in the land of the sane, it is restful to look at. They should probably be left floating about as a public art installation.

    And as a herald of the rise of out tentacled overlord, of course.

  5. omnipasje says

    I feel like such a girl.
    I started watching the video and the first thing i exclaimed was.. “Oohhh.., Pretty!”.


  6. says

    “Oooh! Pretty!” was my first reaction too. Maybe it’s a gay thing. Er, for me, not you. And yeah, my next thought was, “Any practical application for it?” ~wjs

  7. bbgunn071679 says

    Can’t imagine that flotilla staying together very long if launched on the windy northern prairie. Doesn’t appear to have any guidance control other than in the vertical axis.

  8. charley says

    does it have a useful purpose?

    The purpose is to promote Festo automation components and systems. It’s a slightly under-filled helium balloon with clever vertical propulsion.

  9. cameron says

    I’m neither gay nor a girl, but my first reaction was ‘oooh pretty!’ as well. With a healthy dose of ‘oooh neat!’ in the mix also.

  10. chgo_liz says

    Well, I *am* a girl, but not the kind who usually goes around saying “oooh, pretty!”

    Except in this case. Normally I click through videos quickly. This one, I sat in rapt attention.

    Oooh pretty, indeed!

  11. Mattir says

    Daughter spawn and I watched it twice and speculated about whether her Girl Scout troop could build one. We definitely one, but it would be better if it had sparkly unicorn images on it. That might disguise the death ray features.

  12. Mattir says

    Unfortunately, Festo’s US website has no information on the pre-assembled build-your-own-cnidarian kit. Rats.

  13. SteveM says

    I can’t see the video, but is this the same company with the giant flying helium penguins? Those are even more cool as they self-navigate and avoid obstacles and each other.

  14. Darrell E says

    Yes, very cool. The same outfit that makes these has some other types of airborne robots as well.

    And yes, they do serve several useful purposes. They are test beds for new robot propulsion concepts geared towards high efficiency. They are also test beds for autonomous control hardware systems and software, and sensor systems.

    And no, they are not constrained to only changes along the vertical axis.

    I can’t seem to find a clip of it, but there is a scene from a past documentary where many robots of two or three differnt types made by this outfit are all floating/flying around together while all autonomously avoiding obstacles, including each other.

    A lighter than air (or neutrally buoyant) robotic system with highly efficient propulsion able to keep itself on track and out of trouble, and with much longer duration than other airborne robotic systems would be a great asset in all kinds of endeavors from science, to industry, to emergency services and more.

  15. IslandBrewer says

    Oooh, pretty!

    I want them with colors and luminescence, too!

    <.< And deathrays ...

  16. ntlarsen says

    I agree that these probably wouldn’t fare too well outside but imagine them as ad-pillars in a mall. Or carrying surveillance equipment. Or both!

    Also, they are just effin’ cool so why not build it?

    Or how about: PharyngulAir – We’ll fly you there, winds permitting.

  17. Maslab says

    Or how about: PharyngulAir – We’ll fly you there, winds permitting.

    Prove to us prayer works: Pray that the wind blows fair and that that’s not a mountain we’re heading towards.

    Checked out some of their other videos. Really cool.

  18. ursulamajor says

    “What are we going to do today, PZ?”

    “Same thing we do every day. Try to take over the world.”

  19. says

    @#2, Brownian:

    NetStorm! I thought I must be the only person to have played / remember playing that game. My first online gaming experience. It was magical. And artful. ;p

  20. charley says

    And no, they are not constrained to only changes along the vertical axis.

    Really? How do the jellies propel themselves horizontally?

  21. Gregory Greenwood says

    ursulamajor @ 21;

    “… To prove their tentacled worth,
    They’ll overthrow the Earth,
    They’re Hammy,
    They’re Hammy,
    They’re Hammy and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!”

  22. And-U-Say says

    1) Really cool, a nice work of art. I could see those things in a variety of calm environments. Nice technological development.

    2) On the other hamd, what does something like this have over a standard helium baloon, other than being a lot more easy to damage?

  23. Maslab says

    “… To prove their tentacled worth,
    They’ll overthrow the Earth,
    They’re Hammy,
    They’re Hammy,
    They’re Hammy and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!”

  24. spacefall says

    These would be great in stressful environments, like major airports and very large shopping malls (or is it just me that finds the latter stressful?). They’re so soothing to watch that I bet it would calm a lot of anxious, tired people down, as well as adding something apparently very “ooh, pretty” to notoriously ugly spaces.

    You can watch the penguin one here, but it might count as sacrilage around here if you prefer them. ;)

  25. OrchidGrowinMan says


    But I’m an engineer.

    Let’s install cameras and launch some of these to Mars.

    I observe a “dangly bit” that seems to be inside: a plumb-bob? something like that could provide attitude sensing, and allow control via differential “arm drive.”

    As far as making it more practical, it needs a way to make-up buoyancy gas lost through diffusion: I suggest an on-board reserve system to provide hydrogen; the buoyancy gas could be initially He, partly replaced with H2 over time, or it could be H2 all the time. The H2 could be electrolytically generated from an on-board water or hydride store and electricity from photovoltaics. In terrestrial atmosphere, a fuel cell could use some of the H2 to provide power at night. Incidentally, CH4 is also buoyant, and makes a satisfying sound when the fuse finally reaches the floating bag….

    Making it opaque could take advantage of radiation heating for buoyancy (wasn’t this proposed for a Mars probe that would land at night?), but would look way less cool. Mever-mind Black Helicopters, beware of the dreaded brain-sucking Black Air Jellies….

    If someone would please send me a half-dozen of these, I’ll get right to work….

  26. Brownian, OM says

    It was magical. And artful.

    Shush. PZ or Ebert might be reading.

    (The wikipedia article says it’s abandonware and still played online. I wonder if I’ve still got the CD kickin’ around somewhere.)

  27. IslandBrewer says

    Yes, they are pretty, but are they art?

    They are art which will kill you if you resist!

    Now, where are those deathray assembly instructions?

  28. SaintStephen says

    Just add a water bed, and Adriana Lima, and I’ll ride in the dang thang.

  29. Darrell E says

    Posted by: charley | May 13, 2010 12:26 PM

    And no, they are not constrained to only changes along the vertical axis.

    Really? How do the jellies propel themselves horizontally?

    From a Festo pdf on the AirJelly.

    Controlling AirJelly’s motion in three-dimensional space is effected
    by weight displacement. For this purpose, a pendulum is set in
    motion by two actuators in the X and Y directions. The actuators
    are positioned at the jellyfish’s “north pole” and are proportionally
    controlled. The pendulum is 55 centimetres long. AirJelly’s centre
    of mass is displaced in the direction of the pendulum’s motion; the
    jellyfish then moves in the same direction. By means of this peristaltic
    forward motion, AirJelly can move in any spatial direction.

  30. Multicellular says

    Cool, they have rays too!
    Total geek request: change the name from AirJelly’s to CnidAirians.
    I’d buy one and name it Bob.

  31. Darrell E says


    Happy to share. I couldn’t remember off hand so I had to look it up.

  32. and7barton says

    It’s “The Prisoner” and “Rover” all over again, but with a vertical component to it this time around.

  33. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    The death ray function appears to be deactivated in this video.

  34. And-U-Say says

    The air pressure on Mars is only 1/100 that of Earth. So even though you have 1/3 the gravity, you will need a buoyancy to weight ratio 30 times that of Earth to get something to float on Mars. That’s a pretty big ratio, not impossible, but probably impractical when you have little fins hanging off of it.

  35. Ichthyic says

    If someone hasn’t already made a scaled down version for sale as a toy, someone better the fuck get right on that and patent it today!

    as to art display, there is a big room in the art museum section of TePapa Museum here in Wellington that would be a fantastic place to set up a flotilla of these as an interactive art exhibit.

  36. Ichthyic says

    …oh, and someone add some nematocysts to the toy version, just for fun.

  37. uuaschbaer says

    Awesome in the original sense of the word. Freakin’ awesome in the novel sense of the word.

  38. says

    The progress in robotics and robotic controll is remarkable and much better looking then those we used to see on old Analog covers

    there may be hope yet

  39. Marie the Bookwyrm says

    This is so cool. And, yes, I’d like to see a flock of these drifting around a shopping mall–especially one of those multi-story malls.

    BTW, does anybody else think those ‘penguins’ look more like narwhals? Hey, don’t hit me! There’s no song link here!

  40. happy_heyoka says

    Yay, something pretty and vaguely in my area.

    Darrell E – great link; PDF blows away some of my guesses (ick, the facts!)

    bbgunn071679 #10

    “Doesn’t appear to have any guidance control other than in the vertical axis.”

    Using the pendulum for navigation is interesting… note the linkages underneath all seem to be joined; this is probably a compromise for weight… (total weight 1.3Kg – wow!)

    A little bit more weight and cpu power would probably give you independent control of each of the tentacles (?)

    No provision for altitude adjustment (bladders to change volume etc)

    Very cool project.
    Where can I sign up for this job? ;-)

  41. John Scanlon FCD says

    Ichthyic: A penguin display would probably be more apt than jellies for an NZ museum, but with a little modification we could go Mesozoic and have a pod of PlesiAirsaurs. A few smallish ones and a couple of huge KronAirsaurs…