Festo’s AirJelly makes use of a helium-filled balloon and actuated tentacles to achieve flight.

Festo’s AirJelly makes use of a helium-filled balloon and actuated tentacles to achieve flight.

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Watch for our robot themed posts during May in honor of Make: Vol 45: Robots and don’t forget to subscribe to Make: magazine.

Rockstar Robots make up the cream of the crop in the world of robotics. These are the bots that will turn heads with just their name being uttered. Even those who don’t stay on top of who’s making what should recognize a famous robot or two when they see it.

For the month of May, to celebrate the latest Make: issue on robotics, we’re going to be sharing many robot celebrities so you can know who is who the next time you’re at a robot gathering.


The German robotics company Festo is widely known for their bio-inspired mechanical creations, which are recognized all over the globe. One of the company’s more unusual robots belongs in the sea rather than flying through the air. I’m talking about the AirJelly, which is an airborne robotic jellyfish.

Like Festo’s AirPenguin, the AirJelly houses a helium balloon to keep it buoyant, however instead of actuated “flippers” to maneuver, it uses eight actuated tentacles with paddles at the ends for navigating up, down, side-to-side, forwards, and backwards.

Two actuators power the AirJelly on the X any Y-axis creating a peristaltic drive that moves the robot’s tentacles.

Two actuators power the AirJelly on the X- and Y-axes, creating a peristaltic drive that moves the robot’s tentacles.

Two lithium-ion polymer batteries power the AirJelly, which control the central electric drive, as well as its intelligent, adaptive mechanical system. Steering is done by shifting its weight using two servo-motors that move a gravity pendulum.

When the pendulum is shifted to a different angle, the robot’s center of gravity shifts and the robot heads in that direction. While it may look simplistic, it’s actually very complex in its design and certainly graceful when gliding through the air — worthy of the title celebrity!