All the graces of modern technology are being applied to the age-old dirigible airship, aka the blimp, by the company Solarship. Lightweight textiles, batteries, and electronics with solar panels on top of the air-cells, drive the three different, zero emission, models from the company. The original goal is to provide a way to carry cargo or complete tasks in remote regions, but looking at the specs, we are sure to see it everywhere.
● The smallest of the group is the Caracal, capable of carrying up to 750 kg (1,600 lbs) in the hybrid configuration. This craft is mainly targeted for general use, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance uses.
● The medium of the group, the Chui, can carry 2,500kg (5,500 lbs). Solarshi calls the Chui their "pickup truck." Anything a truck can do, this can as well. Except, it can take to the air and traverse impassable terrain.
● Nanuq, meaning "an animal worthy of great respect," is an appropriate name for their largest airship. Solarship calls it their 18-wheeler of the sky. Rightly so, it is being touted with the ability to carry 30 tonnes up to 6,000 km (3,728 miles) in the hybrid form. I would even say that this outstrips the efficiency of most real 18-wheelers.
18-wheeler of the sky. The Nanuq.
Despite the fantastic specs and possibilities that come to mind, the Caracal will not be tested until 2013. The rest will follow, but their abilities may change. I also could not see many of these ships in the sky, mostly since helium is a diminishing resource. Some speculate that in 30 years the helium supply could run out. Helium is extracted from natural gas, and will fall in supply almost linearly.
It appears these dirigibles from Solarship dump helium as they descend, that is not good for the supply, I am sure.