It is called Pathfinder 1 and, after 10 years of development, it has carried out the first flight tests in the Silicon Valley.
It is the 124-metre-long electric airship, developed by the startup LTA Research, with a hand and as many as 110 billion dollars behind it coming from the co-founders: Sergei Brin (founder of Google) together with Larry Page. The aircraft is made up by 13 skeletons that support 12 electric motors that can rotate by 180 degrees, equipped with “drive-by-wire” type control, which allows travelling even under quite complex weather conditions, with wind up to 60 knots (110 kilometres per hour).
Each skeleton has 96 titanium nodes and 288 carbon fiber tubes and the whole structure contains 13 enormous helium tanks on place, wrapped by an as enormous tarpaulin made of Tedlar, a fireproof synthetic fibre. Pathfinder 1 has a system based on Lidar sensors permitting the pilot to know, in real time, the helium volume contained in each tank.
However, behind all that there is a noble purpose: to achieve a 180-metre-long Pathfinder version able to transport an entire field hospital: the primary goal for which Brin is creating its airship is to develop an aircraft that can reach in short times disaster areas and places that are hardly reachable from the ground.