Flying manta ray blimp

German engineering firm Festo has created this flying manta ray. Dubbed the Air_ray, it’s a balloon made of an aluminum-vaporised “PET foil”. Inflated with helium, the Air_ray’s propulsion system is a flapping wing drive. Each wing has alternating pressure and tension flanks that are attached to an internal set of ribs. The flanks are connected to a remotely controlled servo motor. When pressure is applied to either of the flanks, the wing bends in the opposite direction. By alternating pressure on the flanks, the wings beat. The servos are powered by two 8V LiPo accumulator cells.

The total weight of the Air_ray including the balloon, propulsion system, power supply, and helium is 1.6Kg. Festo has more specs in this PDF.

[via Neatorama]


  1. EvilTwin says:

    That is seriously cool-looking. The Zeppelin mk2! ; )

  2. Ryan says:

    Reminds me of those large flyers/bombers on Xen in Half-Life


  3. Mike says:

    kinda reminds me of flying jiffy pop

  4. Doug says:

    heh, I thought I saw this site on here a couple of years back.
    Unrelated to the manta, but their “Airic’s arm” is an awesome piece of bionic tech. As opposed to current artificial limb technology based on servos, this uses a series of pressurised tubes to mimic fluid, muscle movement.

  5. Schnulli says:

    I’ve seen that manta before. Festo is located two small cities next to me. I hope I can work there again in the summer ;) They’re one of the best known firms in the are here.

  6. Johnny B. Goode says:

    That thing is seriously cool. The movement seemed quite fluid. It kind of reminds me of the floating jellyfish.

  7. zorink says:

    Where can I get one?

  8. g says:

    LiPo not lipo (fat)

  9. techyguru says:

    I wonder how large one of these could be made, and if it could handle any wind hitting it. I would love to see one of these flying around a disaster scene providing cellphone, ham radio and police radio relay.

  10. Kyle says:

    I know there is a terribly offensive joke about Steve Irwin in there somewhere.

  11. s says:

    such as… “he’s not safe even in heaven”?

  12. g says:

    great, the posts ignore uppercase. We’re all forced to write like jery yang.

    well, the first “L” and “P” are supposed to be uppercase on the above comment.

  13. mark0 says:

    its quite cool, my dad works for them, and they do all sorts of weird, bio-tech-like robots and devices, just for the fun of it, while they make a living from doing industry robots.

  14. CodeMonkey says:

    very very cool! …but you missed their flying jelly fish:

  15. I’m not….. exactly sure, but I could have sworn I saw that at “Design and the Elastic Mind” @ MOMA in NYC.

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