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Personal Blimp

March 13, 2010

Neat project here… I doubt it will revolutionize transportation, but building a Personal Blimp in your backyard is a pretty awesome project.  I think the physical scale and the relatively slow speed of airships probably won’t allow them to displace the automobile for personal transit any time soon.  But they do have a certain aesthetic appeal about them, and I could even see how the nature of the airship could allow it to be quite useful under certain conditions.

In particular, the thing I like about their design is the structure used to give the balloon its shape. The following image is taken from the “Technology” page of their website.  I think it’s a very clever application of tensioned structures.  By tightening the “Tensioning Line,” the flexible ribs expand outwards, while also being restrained in their final shape by the fabric exterior.  Very clever!

When there is a necessity for heavy transport to places inaccessible by roads, or for surveillance, I would think buoyant aircraft would be an ideal technology.  An example might be the war in Afghanistan; I’ve heard from veterans that well-maintained roads don’t really exist there, and particularly when it rains, the dirt roads which do exist just turn to muck.  And not surprisingly, there is some buzz on the internet which suggests researchers in war technology haven’t lost interest in airships.  It seems the tech would work great in those applications, but I just can’t couple the image of a flying walrus with the epic music accompanying this video:

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