DARPA's Walrus and Griffith's War-Balloons

DARPA's Walrus program to develop and evaluate a very large airlift vehicle has moved forward; DARPA announced the contractors for the first phase of the program. Despite early descriptions of "war-balloons" in late nineteenth century science fiction, this isn't your father's (not to mention great-grandfather's) dirigible airship. According to DARPA's press release, "the Walrus aircraft will be a heavier-than-air vehicle and will generate lift through a combination of aerodynamics, thrust vectoring and gas buoyancy generation and management."


(Aeros Walrus Early Concept Design)

The two contractors receiving Walrus phase I awards are:

  • Lockheed Martin Corp., Advanced Development Programs, Palmdale, Calif., which will receive $2,989,779
  • Aeros Aeronautical Systems Corp., Tarzana, Calif., which will receive $3,267,000
According to DARPA:

A key goal of the Walrus program is to establish clear and credible solutions that provide confidence that earlier airship-era limitations will be overcome. In particular, an early focus of the program will be the investigation of advanced breakthrough technologies that will support the development of innovative lift and buoyancy concepts that do not rely on off-board ballast.

The Walrus operational vehicle (OV) is envisioned to have the primary operational task of deploying composite loads of personnel and equipment (for example, the components of an Army Unit of Action) ready to fight within six hours after disembarking the aircraft. Walrus will operate without significant infrastructure and from unimproved landing sites, including rough ground having nominal five-foot-high obstacles. It is intended to carry a payload of more than 500 tons 12,000 nautical miles in less than seven days at a competitive cost. Additionally, Walrus will be capable of performing theater lift and supporting sea-basing and persistence missions to meet a range of multi-Service needs.

The idea of using enormous dirigibles for heavy lifting in warfare is not a new idea. In his forgotten 1893 classic The Angel of the Revolution, George Griffith wrote about a coming World War fought with air-ships and war-balloons:

...The war-balloons were to be kept for purposes of transportation of heavy articles to Aeria, while the fleet of air-ships was to remain the sole effective fighting force in the world.
(Read more about war-balloons)

Read the DARPA Walrus press release, see the Aeros Walrus description and take a look at a draft copy of DARPA Walrus solicitation (linked from this page). And I put a copy of a picture of the Thunderbird 2, a very similar fictional craft, in the comments.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/7/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )

Related News Stories - (" Transportation ")

Griff 300 Octocopter Carries You And Friend
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...' - James Blish, 1957.

British Airways To Offer An Ingestible Sensor To Passengers
The modern way to get feedback from passengers.

Vahana, The Airbus Flying Taxi
'The cab came floating down out of the sky at the intersection.'

Hi-Yo Modobag! Away!
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'

Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'

Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'

3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'

Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'

Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'

Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'

ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'

Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'

Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'

Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.