Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
See the latest RNC updates from NPR

VIDEO: A Tiny Mechanical 'Jellyfish' That Flies

We've watched as a "pocket-sized drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird" flitted around.

Now, here's another tiny robot flier, but this one mimics the movements of a jellyfish. New Scientist says it just may be "more stable in the air than insect-like machines."

The little machine was created by researchers at New York University. According to New Scientist, "the design should be especially useful for making centimeter-scale robots that drift through the air."

The Washington Post's Innovations blog writes that:

"Leif Ristroph wanted to build the 'simplest possible' flying machine. The applied mathematician at New York University glued together several tubes of carbon fiber to build this: a sphere with four wings attached to it that propels it as a jellyfish swims.

"The flyer is only about eight centimeters in diameter — small enough to fit in the palm of your hand — and its mass is only about two grams, the equivalent of two paper clips."

According to New Scientist, the prototype's jellyfish-like shape "allows it to fly upright with little effort, without requiring sensors or intelligence to adjust its wings." It's thought that little machines such as this might be useful someday for taking air measurements and other scientific endeavors. Check out the video.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.