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:
ďThis 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.Ē
(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 -
Tesla Model S Is Also A Boat (Sort Of)
'This Dick Dare contraption of yours...' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.
Autonomous Cars: The Year Of Driving Dangerously
'The Lincoln was weaving from side to side...' - Daniel Suarez,
Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...' - Robert Heinlein, 1941.
Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...' - Poul Anderson, 1956.
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.
Will There Be A Digital Afterlife?
'A quick exchange of energies resulting from the relocation of discorporate states.'
ROCKY - Resistive Overload Combined With Kinetic Yo-Yo
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..'
China Bans Self-Driving Car Testing
Innovation hits some bumps.
Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'
7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'
Beta-Ti3Au Titanium-Gold Alloy Hardest Tissue-Compatible Metal
It needs a more science-fictional name!
Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...'
Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...'
SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.'
Martian-Grown Food Might Be Fine
'I donít want to come off as arrogant here, but Iím the best botanist on the planet.'
MARLO Robot Attempts Wave Field
'It is apparent that he will walk before his human brother.'
3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.'
3D-Printed Biohybrid Is A Tissue-Engineered Robot
'The directing neurological tissue that forms the basis of the swibble is alive...'
Steerable Locusts Detect Explosives
Science fiction writers again provide a blueprint for the future.
No Human Drivers By 2040 - Israel
'It's been a criminal offense,,, to drive manually on a public highway.'
Graphene Ultracapacitor Airships For Heavy Lifting
'The war-balloons were to be kept for purposes of transportation of heavy articles...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories