Researchers from the Courant Institute at New York University have built a small prototype aerial vehicle, an omnithoptre (or flapping-wing aircraft), whose flying motion resembles the movements of a jellyfish. This new method of flight could enable miniaturized future robots for an number of applications including surveillance, search and rescue, or monitoring of the atmosphere and traffic. Many approaches to building small aerial robots try to mimic the flight of insects. The problem is that the flapping wing of a fly is inherently unstable. The team developed a hovering prototype that “achieves self-righting flight using flapping wings alone, without relying on additional aerodynamic surfaces and without feedback control”. The current prototype is attached to an external power source and can’t steer, either autonomously or via remote control, but it shows a proof of principle. The longstanding goal for researchers is to shrink flying robots down to the size of a centimeter, allowing them to squeeze into small spaces and fly around undetected.