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 relay stations to provide line-of-sight signal transmission
  • Communications platforms
  • Silently observe animals in their natural habitat
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!).

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 |

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 ( 7 )

Related News Stories - (" Vehicle ")

Auto Emotion Detector Lets Your Car Know Your Mood
'Why don't you take a stress pill and get some rest?'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1968.

RYNO To Heinlein - Your Tumblebug Is Ready!
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'- Robert Heinlein, 1940.

RF Safe-Stop Shuts Cars Off
'...a police control-override.'- Keith Laumer, 1965.

Honda's Tumblebug - The UNI-CUB beta
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity…'- Robert Heinlein, 1940.

 

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

Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'

Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.

Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'

Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'

MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.

Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'

Bioengineered Muscle Grows In Mice
'Joeboys... shoulders bulging with grafted muscle.'

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically...'

PredPol Predicting Crime As It Happens
'All day long the idiots babbled...'

UK Internet Filters Default To 'Family-Friendly'
'People bought personalized filter programs...'

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'

Automated Planet Finder Telescope Starts The Hunt
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

Crabster CR200 Robot Prowls The Deep
'The handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature...'

Neither Dead Nor Alive - But Not In Suspended Animation
'...Can he be brought out of the cold-pack?'

Dolphin Whistle Translator
'Louis could hear the other translator discs whistling softly in Puppeteer, snarling quietly in the Hero's Tongue.'

Military Tech Inside Your Roomba?
What else can Roomba do?

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.