Video: Canadian Company Develops Solar Powered Plane/Blimp Cargo Hauler

Green energy presents so many amazing opportunities and advantages over our current energy infrastructure…like the ability to go places where there isn’t any infrastructure. A Canadian company has developed a lightweight plane/blimp that can haul up to 1,000 kg of goods and is powered solely by the sun.

Flying Close To The Sun

The company, called Solar Ship, has developed a lightweight plane that can take off and land in the space of a football field. Big deal, so what right? Totally impractical…oh, wait, it can carry over 1,000 kg/2,200 lbs of stuff a distant of about 1,000 kilometers/620 miles? Well now, that certainly is impressive, and opens up a whole word of possibilities.

Some ideas for ways to use the Solar Ship are as an emergency rescue video to remote parts of the world where disaster strikes. They could also be used to deliver resources to distant mining or hunting outposts…though I wonder what happens should you fly under a big, dark cloud…

Hauler For Humanity

The blimp-part of the plane holds a lot of helium…but not enough to lift the plane on its own. An electric motor, powered by a battery that is charged by solar panels on the blimp’s back, allow the Solar Ship to take off and land in less than 100 yards, and it can be filled with enough helium to allow it to carry over a ton of supplies. Compared to other electric aircraft, which can only transport a few passengers short distances, the Solar Ships seem to have a practical purpose.

So far the smallest version of the Solar Ship, called the Caracal, has been built and can lift over a ton of materials. The designers envision it as useful in situations like those that followed the Haiti earthquake. With the main airstrip ruined, it took 8 days for supplies to be flown in. But the little Solar Ship can land just about anywhere, and while it can’t ferry much compared to a jumbo jet, a little bit can go a long way right after a disaster, and bigger versions are planned that could lift as much as 30 tons of material.

While the first test is already under its belt, more tests are required before production can take place, with runs planned for 2012 and 2013. It will be interested to see how these Solar Ships shape up.

Source: Wired UK | Solar Ships

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.