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 -
Volvo's 'Drive Me' Program Offers Autonomous Cars In 2017
'She woke just before the signal from the car which would have called her...'- Robert Heinlein, 1941.
Autonomous Car Outperforms Professional Race Driver
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''- Daniel Suarez, 2009.
Vroom! Your Car Or Truck's Engine Noise Might Be Fake
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'- Robert Heinlein, 1985.
VW Golf R Touch With Gesture Control
'All you had to do was wave your hand...'- Douglas Adams,
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.
Super Ball Bot Tensegrity Robot For Solar System Exploration
'Each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body...'
iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'
Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'
MC10 Electronics Skin Stickers
'Every diaper... a fine copper wire…'
Robot Brains Improved By Darwinian Evolution
'The new species. Evolution. The race to come after man.'
Self-Deployable Habitat For Extreme Environments
'When you buy one of them, you don't need to tie up to an electric outlet.'
Audi's Chairless Chair Lower Body Exoskeleton
'Solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'
CreoPop 3D Pen Draws In Midair
'It makes drawings in the air...'
Seattle Police Body Cams, Ala Stross, Ala Dick
'Let's hear it for the vague blur!'
Autonomous Cars Will Own Themselves
'The robot drew his cab up before Eric's modest six-room bungalow.'
Hyperloop Track Starts Next Year
World's First 3D Printed Villa
'It makes drawings in the air following drawings...'
Brainflight Brain-Controlled Drone
'Mr Gant, you must think in Russian. Can you do that?'
Students Control Lab Experiments Remotely Via App
'Hello, Europa... Is this your robot I'm looking at, in sector 94?'
ROBEAR Nursing Care Robot
What other robots are strong enough to carry you? Do you want them to do so?
Testing New Spacesuits In 1929 And 2015
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories