The military often gets to check out exciting green technology before the general public. Case in point: DARPA’s new smart blimp, an automated, unmanned airship featuring an advanced radar system, solar cells, and a fuel cell to store energy at night. Dubbed The Integrated Sensor Is the Structure (ISIS), the helium-filled blimp takes advantage of its radar system to offer up high-resolution images of battlefield scenes.

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According to its creators at MITRE, the blimp can move at 60 knots during sustained trips and 100 knots during a sprint–so ISIS can make it to anywhere on Earth within 10 days of launch. Flying over six miles in the air, ISIS is able to avoid both ground-based missiles and air-to-air missiles.

So will we be flying around in speedy solar-powered blimps sometime soon? Probably not. The Air Force and DARPA won’t have a prototype of ISIS ready until 2013, and consumer applications won’t come until much later. But eventually, the technology could change the way we use solar power for transportation.


Via Fast Company