Blimp Swims Through Air Like A Fish
A blimp that swims through the air like a fish has been created by Swiss researchers. The fish-like airship uses artificial muscles made from electroactive polymers (EAPs) to propel itself forward.
(Diagram of Electroactive-polymer artificial muscle 'trout' blimp)
Empa researcher Silvain Michel and his team have patented this unique silent non-rigid airship; it uses its artificial muscles to power through the air like a trout swimming in a brook. It uses the same "bending-rotation-stroke" used by fish in the water - bending its body in one direction and its tail in the other.
According to Dr. Michel:
“This technique can be transferred directly from water to air. A blimp moving through the air is, in terms of the physics involved, exactly the same as a fish moving through
water. In both cases a body is moving through a fluid and is subject to the same laws of fluid dynamics.”
(EAP airship moves through air like a fish through water
[ETH Zurich simulation])
The fish-like blimp uses EAPs developed by Empa. EAPs are elastic polymer films which, when subjected to an electrical voltage, become thinner and expand in area. If properly employed, this deformation can propel the airship forward. And, because EAPs convert electrical energy directly into work without the need to use electric motors and gear systems, EAPs provide efficiencies of up to seventy percent.
(Electroactive-polymer muscles move this blimp)
The electroactive-polymer sheets merge into the airship hull at four points. When activated by electrical energy, they expand, causing the hull to execute the "bending-rotation-stroke" like a fish in water.
Researchers point to a number of possible applications (it needs to have applications?)
As far as truly science-fictional precursors are concerned, I'm stumped. I think that there is a game for the PS2 that uses a blimp shaped like a fish - Rule of Rose. Also, a fish-blimp was demonstrated in 1988 at RoboFest I in Austin, Texas; it used a mechanical flapping fin for propulsion (Swiss patent lawyers, take note!).
- As relay stations to provide line-of-sight signal transmission
- Communications platforms
- Silently observe animals in their natural habitat
Udpate 27-Mar-2007:See additional suggestions for how flying sea creatures might look based on other books and movies in the Electroactive Polymer blimp comments. (End update.)
See also these airships with an sf theme:
From NewScientist via Velcro City Tourist Board. See also this cleverly googled pdf -
Airships that swim through the atmosphere.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/24/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )
Related News Stories -
Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...' - Allan Dean Foster, 2006.
Tesla Autopilot's 40 Percent Crash Reduction
''I hope all those other cars are on automatic,' he said anxiously.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1976
Cormorant Flying Car
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...' - James Blish, 1957.
Star Wars Speeder Bikes! On Water, By Jetovator
'Hey, wait!' Now, you don't need to say that.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Cattle Avoidance Feature In Indian Autonomous Cars
'The driver went about the business of gently slipping the teflon-coated metal scoop beneath the first animal...'
Project KOVR Fashion Protection From Infosphere
'... the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond.'
Twist Bioscience High Density Digital Data On DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'
'We're Not Creating A Terminator' Say Russians About Gun-Wielding Robot Fedor
Nobody is thinking about the Terminator. Westworld, maybe.
Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...'
Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years
'... the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings.'
Is 'The Pulsar Positioning System' Evidence For SETI?
'For a hyperspace jump, you need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'
Someday, You Might Like VR Enough To Move In
'That barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'
Humans Use Mental Power For Turtle Slavery
Now we need to start looking for animals with fingers...
Solar-Powered Moisture Vaporator
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
DxtER! Tricorder Prize Won By Final Frontier Medical Devices
We've been waiting a long time for this, Star Trek fans.
President Trump's Wall As Otra Nation Hyperloop
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'
Pickup Lines From Artificial Intelligences
'They hate us, you know... The humans. They'll stop at nothing.'
Pooper Scooper Drone Robot Watchdog 1
'Robots pick up the garbage and junk...'
Cassie Robot Brings AT-ST Walker To Life
There's even a log test!
Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories