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 -
Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...' - Philip K. Dick, 1963.
Tesla Autopilot Road Trip 2995 Miles, 57 Hours
'The beautiful old car cruised ... under the guidance of its automatic controls...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1976.
Tesla's New Autopilot, With Test Drive Video
'As the beautiful old car cruised in almost perfect silence under the guidance of its automatic controls...'
Will The Dashboard Disappear From Autonomous Cars?
'No controls and no instruments...' - James Blish, 1957.
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.
Algorithm Predicts Marriage Success (HAL 9000 Will See You Now)
'I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset....'
Denmark Island Earth (Verdenskortet ala Ringworld)
'They wanted to keep something of what they were losing...'
Humai Startup To Implant Your Brain In Robot Body
'The astounded onlookers saw a human brain snugly encased in a transparent skull-shaped receptacle.'
Blue Origin Reusable Rocket's Vertical Landing
We're getting there, one launch at a time.
X125 Snake-Arm Inspection Robot Video
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles...'
Super-Thin Smart Glazing Displays
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'
Have Scientists Found A Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours
'Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible.'
Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...'
Tech Tats Prototype Sfnal Devices
'...Permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'
ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."
Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'
Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'
Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'
Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'
Police Use Predictive Maps ala 'Minority Report' Routinely
'...the data-receptors, and the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories