Airship Control Patents (Class 244/96)
  • Patent number: 10694303
    Abstract: A sound system for broadcasting audio is disclosed. The sound system utilizes speaker unit carried by a lighter-than-air airship that is connected to a base station using a tether. The airship elevates the speaker unit to a height much larger than the height of the largest ground obstruction. Accordingly, more listeners may hear and understand the message because multipath reflections and shadow regions are reduced.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 16, 2019
    Date of Patent: June 23, 2020
    Assignee: The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama
    Inventor: William Steve Shepard, Jr.
  • Patent number: 10437260
    Abstract: Disclosed are systems, devices, and methods for controlling an aerial vehicle. An exemplary method may include receiving data indicating a location and an altitude of the aerial vehicle, receiving data indicating a destination of the aerial vehicle, receiving prevailing wind pattern data regarding winds at the location and altitude of the aerial vehicle, determining that the aerial vehicle is within a predetermined distance of the destination, determining a speed at which the aerial vehicle is moving, and causing the aerial vehicle to adjust the altitude of the aerial vehicle based on the prevailing wind pattern data and the determined speed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 28, 2017
    Date of Patent: October 8, 2019
    Assignee: Loon LLC
    Inventors: Salvatore J. Candido, Sameera Sylvia Ponda
  • Patent number: 10419946
    Abstract: A method for planning a high altitude platform-based communication network includes aggregating data from at least one data source, wherein the data includes environmental data. Based on the aggregated data, a plurality of network expansion potential scores are computed according to geographic location. A visual output is generated based on the computed plurality of network expansion potential scores.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 7, 2018
    Date of Patent: September 17, 2019
    Assignee: LOON LLC
    Inventors: Salvatore J. Candido, Wanda Hung
  • Patent number: 9809294
    Abstract: A high altitude balloon including a balloon film, a lifting gas disposed within the balloon film, a payload operably coupled to the balloon film, and a heat transfer element operably coupled between the payload and the balloon film configured to transfer heat from the payload to the lifting gas causing a change in buoyancy of the high altitude balloon.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 23, 2015
    Date of Patent: November 7, 2017
    Assignee: Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation
    Inventors: Taylor Evan Matthews, Anthony Paul Fry, Jessica Marie Lavigne, Rafy Uddin Athar
  • Patent number: 9643507
    Abstract: And aircraft recharging station is provided for recharging an aircraft provided with a rechargeable battery. The recharging station includes a parking surface with conductive tiles selectively connected to an electrical power supply. The recharging station also includes a controller configured to determine a position of the aircraft on the parking surface by connecting, including being configured to iteratively connect a different pair of tiles to the electrical power supply to provide a circuit including positive and negative tiles connected thereto, and test an electrical circuit condition of the circuit, until a closed circuit condition is determined, thereby indicating that the aircraft is positioned on the positive and negative tiles, and that the battery is thereby rechargeable by the electrical power supply.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 18, 2014
    Date of Patent: May 9, 2017
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: David Scarlatti, David Esteban Campillo, Enrique Casado, Fernando Caballero, Ivan Maza
  • Publication number: 20150076281
    Abstract: Neutral buoyancy craft of architecture according to which all the necessary for its guidance, navigation and control forces act exclusively on part A (2.1) which locates between the craft's extreme front and the Drag's application center D as the surrounding flow's axis is parallel to the craft's longitudinal axis and its direction from its front portion towards its back. The part A (2.1) which may be an independent part connected to the rest of the craft by means that ensure the effective transfer of powers from the one part to the other allowing also the relative rotation between the two parts by 360 degrees around the craft's longitudinal axis.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 24, 2013
    Publication date: March 19, 2015
    Applicant: LASKARRI LIMITED
    Inventor: Stylianos Laskaris
  • Patent number: 8967533
    Abstract: Example embodiments may facilitate altitude control by a balloon in a balloon network. An example method involves: (a) causing a balloon to operate in a first mode, wherein the balloon comprises an envelope, a high-pressure storage chamber, and a solar power system, (b) while the balloon is operating in the first mode: (i) operating the solar power system to generate power for the balloon and (ii) using at least some of the power generated by the solar power system to move gas from the envelope to the high-pressure storage chamber such that the buoyancy of the balloon decreases; (c) causing the balloon to operate in a second mode; and while the balloon is operating in the second mode, moving gas from the high-pressure storage chamber to the envelope such that the buoyancy of the balloon increases.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 20, 2012
    Date of Patent: March 3, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Joshua Weaver
  • Patent number: 8920537
    Abstract: A flying air purifier includes a flying unit configured to fly within a space at a first elevation. The flying unit is also configured to fly within the space at a second elevation. The flying air purifier also includes an air purifier mounted to the flying unit and configured to remove particles from air within the space at the first elevation and at the second elevation. The air purifier includes an air inlet having a first charge and an air outlet having a second charge, wherein the second charge is opposite of the first charge.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 8, 2011
    Date of Patent: December 30, 2014
    Assignee: Empire Technology Development LLC
    Inventor: Aya Seike
  • Publication number: 20140319271
    Abstract: The positions of balloons in a communication network of balloons, such as a mesh network of high-altitude balloons, may be adjusted relative to one another in order to try to maintain a desired network topology. In one approach, the position of each balloon may be adjusted relative to one or more neighbor balloons. For example, the locations of a target balloon and one or more neighbor balloons may be determined. A desired movement of the target balloon may then be determined based on the locations of the one or more neighbor balloons relative to the location of the target balloon. The target balloon may be controlled based on the desired movement. In some embodiments, the altitude of the target balloon may be controlled in order to expose the target balloon to ambient winds that are capable of producing the desired movement of the target balloon.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 10, 2014
    Publication date: October 30, 2014
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Josh Weaver, Dan Piponi
  • Publication number: 20140319270
    Abstract: The positions of balloons in a communication network of balloons, such as a mesh network of high-altitude balloons, may be adjusted relative to one another in order to try to maintain a desired network topology. In one approach, the position of each balloon may be adjusted relative to one or more neighbor balloons. For example, the locations of a target balloon and one or more neighbor balloons may be determined. A desired movement of the target balloon may then be determined based on the locations of the one or more neighbor balloons relative to the location of the target balloon. The target balloon may be controlled based on the desired movement. In some embodiments, the altitude of the target balloon may be controlled in order to expose the target balloon to ambient winds that are capable of producing the desired movement of the target balloon.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 10, 2014
    Publication date: October 30, 2014
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Josh Weaver, Dan Piponi
  • Publication number: 20140284422
    Abstract: A hovering surveillance device. An electronic imaging device is disposed on a housing having a primary lift element, at least one compressed lighter-than-air gas element, a pitch adjustment element, and, a steering element. The compressed lighter-than-air gas is channeled to the primary lift element and the pitch adjustment element to selectively vary the altitude and angle for the housing such that scene of interest may be imaged. The lighter-than-air gas may be selected from the group of helium, hydrogen, heated air, neon, ammonia, and methane.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 21, 2013
    Publication date: September 25, 2014
    Inventor: Itzhak Sapir
  • Publication number: 20140263827
    Abstract: An example can include a pod detachably coupled to a hull. At least one thrust generator can be fixed to the pod. A power source can be mounted to the pod and slideable fore and aft. A power source actuator can be coupled between the pod and the power source to translate the location of the power source with respect to the pod. A sensor can be coupled to the pod to detect a pitch of the hull and provide a pitch signal. A controller can be coupled to one or more of the power source, the power source actuator, the first and second thrust generators and the sensor. The controller can maintain a pitch of the hull by translating the power source within the pod in association with the pitch signal.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 13, 2014
    Publication date: September 18, 2014
    Inventors: Michael Scott Smith, Randy E. Scott
  • Patent number: 8833696
    Abstract: A balloon is provided having an envelope, and a payload positioned beneath the envelope, wherein the envelope has an exterior shape adapted for directing sunlight towards the payload. The balloon may further include a control system configured to cause the balloon or payload to rotate to cause a first portion of the balloon envelope or a first portion of the payload to be positioned facing the sun. The first portion of the balloon envelope may be asymmetrical with respect to a second portion of the balloon envelope, with the first portion angled to direct sunlight towards the payload. The balloon envelope may include a transmissive or translucent surface adapted to direct sunlight towards a lower portion of the envelope, which in turn is adapted to direct sunlight onto the payload. The balloon may also be lens-shaped to focus sunlight onto the payload.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 28, 2012
    Date of Patent: September 16, 2014
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Eric Teller, Richard Wayne DeVaul, Joshua Weaver, Clifford Biffle
  • Patent number: 8820678
    Abstract: The positions of balloons in a communication network of balloons, such as a mesh network of high-altitude balloons, may be adjusted relative to one another in order to try to maintain a desired network topology. In one approach, the position of each balloon may be adjusted relative to one or more neighbor balloons. For example, the locations of a target balloon and one or more neighbor balloons may be determined. A desired movement of the target balloon may then be determined based on the locations of the one or more neighbor balloons relative to the location of the target balloon. The target balloon may be controlled based on the desired movement. In some embodiments, the altitude of the target balloon may be controlled in order to expose the target balloon to ambient winds that are capable of producing the desired movement of the target balloon.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 9, 2012
    Date of Patent: September 2, 2014
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Josh Weaver, Dan Piponi
  • Patent number: 8777156
    Abstract: A vehicle suitable for use in high-altitude applications use may include a gas impermeable body and a flexible barrier separating the body into multiple sections or compartments. The compartments may include a lift compartment for holding lift gas, such as lighter than air gas, and a ballast compartment for holding a ballast, such as heavier than air gas. A valve may permit passage of the ballast from the ballast compartment to an exterior of the body. The body may have an oblong shape, with fins attached to an exterior back end thereof. The vehicle may have only internal ballast compartments, without including a hopper external to the body.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 20, 2011
    Date of Patent: July 15, 2014
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Nicholas Piini, Alex Siler, Joseph Kinkopf, Caitlyn Fahey
  • Patent number: 8733697
    Abstract: A balloon that includes an envelope with a gas contained within the envelope, as well as a payload connected to the envelope wherein the envelope has a first portion that has a first absorptive or reflective property with respect to allowing solar energy to be transferred to the gas within the envelope, and a second portion that has a second absorptive or reflective property with respect to allowing solar energy to be transferred to the gas within the envelope where the second absorptive or reflective property is different than the first absorptive or reflective property, and wherein the envelope is rotatable to allow a preferred ratio of the first and second portions of the envelope to be positioned facing the sun.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 9, 2012
    Date of Patent: May 27, 2014
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L Biffle, Josh Weaver
  • Publication number: 20140070050
    Abstract: A system for controlling yaw associated with an airship may include one or more vertical control surfaces associated with the airship, a first power source and a second power source, each configured to provide a thrust associated with the airship, and a yaw control configured to receive an input indicative of a desired yaw angle. The system may further include a controller communicatively connected to the yaw control, the one or more vertical control surfaces, and the first and second power sources. The controller may be configured to receive an output signal from the yaw control corresponding to the desired yaw angle and to generate a control signal configured to modify a state associated with at least one of the one or more vertical control surfaces, the first power source, and the second power source, such that the airship substantially attains the desired yaw angle.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 14, 2013
    Publication date: March 13, 2014
    Applicant: LTA CORPORATION
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Publication number: 20140014770
    Abstract: A balloon includes a cut-down device, a payload, and an envelope. A control system could be configured to determine a position of the balloon with respect to a predetermined zone. The cut-down device could be operable to cause at least the payload to land in response to determining that the position of the balloon is within the predetermined zone. The predetermined zone includes an exclusion zone and a shadow zone. The shadow zone could include locations from which the balloon would be likely to drift into the exclusion zone based on, e.g., historic weather patterns or expected environmental conditions. Boundaries of the shadow zone could be determined based on, for example, a probability of the balloon entering the exclusion zone.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 12, 2012
    Publication date: January 16, 2014
    Applicant: GOOGLE INC.
    Inventors: Eric Teller, Richard Wayne DeVaul, Joshua Weaver, Clifford L. Biffle, Bradley Rhodes, Anton Staaf
  • Publication number: 20140012433
    Abstract: A computer-implemented method for releasing and controlling an airship is provided. The method includes receiving instruction signals to release the airship for an autonomous flight, wherein the airship includes a plurality of body segments and a plurality of coupling elements for coupling adjacent body segments along a length of the airship. The method further includes determining environmental conditions affecting the airship, evaluating an internal pressure level of each of the plurality of body segments and a stiffness level of each of the couplings elements, and determining whether the evaluated internal pressure levels and stiffness levels are substantially suitable to the determined environmental conditions. The method further includes, determining whether the propulsion unit is in an operational state, and then based on the determination that the propulsion unit is in an operational state, triggering a disconnection of the tether unit and an activation of the auto pilot unit.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 8, 2013
    Publication date: January 9, 2014
    Applicant: World Surveillance Group, Inc.
    Inventor: World Surveillance Group, Inc.
  • Patent number: 8515596
    Abstract: Disclosed herein is a method and system for flying a ducted-fan aerial vehicle, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The method includes receiving a flight plan comprising a plurality of waypoints and a plurality of path segments connecting the plurality of waypoints in an order of execution. The method further includes determining actual flight instructions for the ducted fan unmanned aerial vehicle based on (i) the received flight plan, (ii) a predetermined set of operating parameters associated with the ducted fan unmanned aerial vehicle, and (iii) an iterative analysis of a plurality of ordered triples. The method further includes sending the actual flight instructions to at least one processor of the ducted fan unmanned aerial vehicle configured to implement one or more portions of the actual flight instructions.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 18, 2009
    Date of Patent: August 20, 2013
    Assignee: Honeywell International Inc.
    Inventors: Eric E. Hamke, Matthew Trujillo, Philip Brown
  • Publication number: 20130175391
    Abstract: The positions of balloons in a communication network of balloons, such as a mesh network of high-altitude balloons, may be adjusted relative to one another in order to try to maintain a desired network topology. In one approach, the position of each balloon may be adjusted relative to one or more neighbor balloons. For example, the locations of a target balloon and one or more neighbor balloons may be determined. A desired movement of the target balloon may then be determined based on the locations of the one or more neighbor balloons relative to the location of the target balloon. The target balloon may be controlled based on the desired movement. In some embodiments, the altitude of the target balloon may be controlled in order to expose the target balloon to ambient winds that are capable of producing the desired movement of the target balloon.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 9, 2012
    Publication date: July 11, 2013
    Applicant: GOOGLE INC.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Josh Weaver, Dan Piponi
  • Patent number: 8418952
    Abstract: An airship may include a hull substantially shaped as an oblate spheroid, one or more frame members defining a support structure, wherein the support structure forms at least a partial support for the hull, at least one horizontal stabilizing member operably coupled to a lower surface of the airship, and at least one horizontal stabilizing member having a first end and a second end. The at least one horizontal stabilizing member may define an anhedral configuration. The airship may also include a vertical stabilizing member having a first end pivotally coupled to the airship and a second end oriented to remain below an upper surface of the airship. The vertical stabilizing member may be configured to pivot within a vertical plane, and the first end of the vertical stabilizing member and the first end of the at least one horizontal stabilizing member may be operably coupled to one another.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 3, 2012
    Date of Patent: April 16, 2013
    Assignee: LTA Corporation
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Publication number: 20130075523
    Abstract: A control system for a tethered aerostat is provided, where up to two rotational and at least one translational degree of freedom are controlled to setpoints through the variation of tether lengths by an actuator system. The term tether includes a single tether, a tether group or a sub section of tether controlled by an individual actuator. Accurate rotational and translational control is essential for the successful operation of an aerostat under several applications, including surveillance, weather monitoring, and power generation. For a given use case, the controller can be constructed and arranged to manage the tradeoff between several key performance characteristics, such as transient performance, steady-state pointing accuracy, tether tension regulation, and power generation.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 17, 2012
    Publication date: March 28, 2013
    Applicant: ALTAEROS ENERGIES, INC.
    Inventor: Altaeros Energies, Inc.
  • Patent number: 8387914
    Abstract: A vehicle includes a housing having a wall with a central port and radial port formed at a lower portion of the housing, a blower disposed within the housing to move air through the central port, a distributor coupled to the blower to distribute air inside the housing, a heat-absorbing body disposed within the housing to absorb thermal energy, and at least one arm coupled to the housing.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 30, 2010
    Date of Patent: March 5, 2013
    Assignee: Raytheon Company
    Inventor: Timothy D. Smith
  • Publication number: 20130043353
    Abstract: A system for controlling yaw associated with an airship may include one or more vertical control surfaces associated with the airship, a first power source and a second power source, each configured to provide a thrust associated with the airship, and a yaw control configured to receive an input indicative of a desired yaw angle. The system may further include a controller communicatively connected to the yaw control, the one or more vertical control surfaces, and the first and second power sources. The controller may be configured to receive an output signal from the yaw control corresponding to the desired yaw angle and to generate a control signal configured to modify a state associated with at least one of the one or more vertical control surfaces, the first power source, and the second power source, such that the airship substantially attains the desired yaw angle.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 11, 2012
    Publication date: February 21, 2013
    Applicant: LTA CORPORATION
    Inventor: LTA CORPORATION
  • Patent number: 8297550
    Abstract: A system for controlling yaw associated with an airship may include one or more vertical control surfaces associated with the airship, a first power source and a second power source, each configured to provide a thrust associated with the airship, and a yaw control configured to receive an input indicative of a desired yaw angle. The system may further include a controller communicatively connected to the yaw control, the one or more vertical control surfaces, and the first and second power sources. The controller may be configured to receive an output signal from the yaw control corresponding to the desired yaw angle and to generate a control signal configured to modify a state associated with at least one of the one or more vertical control surfaces, the first power source, and the second power source, such that the airship substantially attains the desired yaw angle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 7, 2008
    Date of Patent: October 30, 2012
    Assignee: LTA Corporation
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Patent number: 8286909
    Abstract: Systems, method, devices and apparatus are provided for reducing drag and increasing the flight efficiency characteristics of aircraft and airships including hybrid aircraft utilizing distributed boundary layer control and propulsion devices. Boundary layer control includes passive systems such as riblet films and boundary layer propulsion devices having a divided and distributed propulsion system disposed in the curved aft sections of aircraft and airships including hybrid aircraft susceptible to boundary layer drag due to degree of curvatures, speed and density of the surrounding air. Distributed propulsion devices include constructing propellers and riblets from shape memory alloys, piezoelectric materials and electroactive polymer (EAP) materials to change the shape and length of the distributed propulsion device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 8, 2008
    Date of Patent: October 16, 2012
    Assignee: StratoComm Corporation
    Inventor: Yee-Chun Lee
  • Publication number: 20120181381
    Abstract: A self-righting aerostat (10) is described comprising at least one blimp-shaped body (12), supported by gas and in which a bow and a stern are defined, a plurality of tailplanes (13) having a stabilizing function, a self-righting system provided with a ballast, consisting of liquid, able to be moved through a pump (22) from the bow to the stern of the blimp-shaped body (12) and vice-versa, a system for controlling the trim based upon the actuation of mobile parts (27) of the tailplanes (13) and on propellers driven by motors (28; 29), and a takeoff and recovery system (34) comprising a winch device (35) on which a cable is wound (19) to anchor the aerostat to the ground (10).
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 28, 2010
    Publication date: July 19, 2012
    Applicant: NOCE S.R.L.
    Inventors: Piercarlo Vercesi, Matteo Vazzola, Alberto Favro
  • Patent number: 8224501
    Abstract: A method for controlling an unmanned platform from a manned station is provided. The method includes transmitting a master arm control message from the manned station to the unmanned platform via a first control path, transmitting a first critical control message from the manned station to the unmanned platform via a second control path that is independent of the first control path, and transmitting a second critical control message from the manned station to the unmanned platform via a third control path that is different than the first control path and the second control path.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 30, 2008
    Date of Patent: July 17, 2012
    Assignee: General Electric Company
    Inventors: Stefano Angelo Mario Lassini, Eric Daniel Buehler
  • Publication number: 20120160959
    Abstract: An airship may include a hull substantially shaped as an oblate spheroid, one or more frame members defining a support structure, wherein the support structure forms at least a partial support for the hull, at least one horizontal stabilizing member operably coupled to a lower surface of the airship, and at least one horizontal stabilizing member having a first end and a second end. The at least one horizontal stabilizing member may define an anhedral configuration. The airship may also include a vertical stabilizing member having a first end pivotally coupled to the airship and a second end oriented to remain below an upper surface of the airship. The vertical stabilizing member may be configured to pivot within a vertical plane, and the first end of the vertical stabilizing member and the first end of the at least one horizontal stabilizing member may be operably coupled to one another.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 3, 2012
    Publication date: June 28, 2012
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Patent number: 8113463
    Abstract: An airship includes an airbag, a control cabin disposed on a lower portion of the airbag, a propel device mounted to a rear portion of the control cabin and a power control system disposed in the control cabin. The propel device includes a propeller for providing moving power to the airship and multiple compressors each having a spray nozzle connected thereto for providing air stream to change the moving direction of the airship. The power control system includes multiple solar energy boards secured on and outer periphery of the airship for transferring the solar energy into direct current that is used as an energy source of the airship.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 2, 2009
    Date of Patent: February 14, 2012
    Inventor: Man Ji Wu
  • Patent number: 8109462
    Abstract: An airship may include a hull substantially shaped as an oblate spheroid, one or more frame members defining a support structure, wherein the support structure forms at least a partial support for the hull, at least one horizontal stabilizing member operably coupled to a lower surface of the airship, and at least one horizontal stabilizing member having a first end and a second end. The at least one horizontal stabilizing member may define an anhedral configuration. The airship may also include a vertical stabilizing member having a first end pivotally coupled to the airship and a second end oriented to remain below an upper surface of the airship. The vertical stabilizing member may be configured to pivot within a vertical plane, and the first end of the vertical stabilizing member and the first end of the at least one horizontal stabilizing member may be operably coupled to one another.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 1, 2010
    Date of Patent: February 7, 2012
    Assignee: LTA Corporation
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Patent number: 7938364
    Abstract: A system for generating power from sunlight collected substantially above the earth's surface comprises an airborne platform which supports solar power generation system to collect sunlight, convert the sunlight to electricity, and to transmit the electricity to a selected location on the earth's surface. The solar power generation system is coupled to the airborne platform by a support which can be manipulated by a control system to move the solar power generation system away from a shadow that might be cast by the airborne platform.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 14, 2008
    Date of Patent: May 10, 2011
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Brian J. Tillotson
  • Patent number: 7887007
    Abstract: A high-altitude long-endurance airship with a top surface that is highly emissive of infrared radiation and a bottom surface that is highly absorptive of infrared radiation. Movable displacer blankets inside the airship separate the upper and lower portions of the airship. Lifting gas in the airship is warmed by radiation from the earth when the displacer blankets are in their upper position. Lifting gas is cooled by radiation to space when the displacer blankets are in their lower position. The whole airship is a heat engine. By expanding the volume of lifting gas when it is relatively warm and compressing the lifting gas when it is relatively cold, net power output can be recovered in the form of electric power. The overall configuration of the preferred airship is a variable-thickness flying wing. If the whole airship is alternately expanded and compressed, imbalance between its weight and buoyancy allow gliding flight.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 8, 2008
    Date of Patent: February 15, 2011
    Inventor: Matthew P. Mitchell
  • Patent number: 7866601
    Abstract: An airship may include a hull substantially shaped as an oblate spheroid, one or more frame members defining a support structure, wherein the support structure forms at least a partial support for the hull, at least one horizontal stabilizing member operably coupled to a lower surface of the airship, and at least one horizontal stabilizing member having a first end and a second end. The at least one horizontal stabilizing member may define an anhedral configuration. The airship may also include a vertical stabilizing member having a first end pivotally coupled to the airship and a second end oriented to remain below an upper surface of the airship. The vertical stabilizing member may be configured to pivot within a vertical plane, and the first end of the vertical stabilizing member and the first end of the at least one horizontal stabilizing member may be operably coupled to one another.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 18, 2007
    Date of Patent: January 11, 2011
    Assignee: LTA Corporation
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Publication number: 20100320314
    Abstract: A system for controlling yaw associated with an airship may include one or more vertical control surfaces associated with the airship, a first power source and a second power source, each configured to provide a thrust associated with the airship, and a yaw control configured to receive an input indicative of a desired yaw angle. The system may further include a controller communicatively connected to the yaw control, the one or more vertical control surfaces, and the first and second power sources. The controller may be configured to receive an output signal from the yaw control corresponding to the desired yaw angle and to generate a control signal configured to modify a state associated with at least one of the one or more vertical control surfaces, the first power source, and the second power source, such that the airship substantially attains the desired yaw angle.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 7, 2008
    Publication date: December 23, 2010
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Publication number: 20100288875
    Abstract: An airship system, including an inflatable airship of predetermined volume adapted to be filled with gas and to rise to a predetermined altitude, said airship having a hull formed from an inflated flexible gas containment primary envelope, at least one lifting envelope located within the primary envelope for containing the lifting gas, where the lifting envelope will expand to substantially occupy the space of the primary envelope when the airship is at its predetermined high altitude, at least one secondary envelope located within the primary envelope, which can be inflated when said lifting envelope is at lower altitudes to fill the balance of the space of the primary envelope, and air handling means external to the primary envelope and communicating with the secondary envelope for filling and emptying the secondary envelope.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 15, 2009
    Publication date: November 18, 2010
    Applicant: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Nicholas L. Barnes, Jonathon M. Peritt
  • Publication number: 20100270424
    Abstract: A hybrid airship comprises a non-rigid body having a delta-wing shape and an airfoil cross-section. The body is shaped for generating aerodynamic lift during forward flight, and contains a gas for generating buoyancy lift. At least one splitter plate is pivotally connected along a trailing edge of the body. The splitter plate is configured to be controllably pivoted for controlling the airship.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 24, 2009
    Publication date: October 28, 2010
    Inventor: James D. DeLaurier
  • Publication number: 20100140390
    Abstract: A Wind energy conversion apparatus comprising a wind turbine supported by, or integral with, a lighter-than-air structure, the part of the turbine that rotates being rotated by the wind whilst at the same time absorbing substantially all of the force of the wind so that the position of the apparatus can be maintained.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 24, 2007
    Publication date: June 10, 2010
    Inventor: Peter Robert Goodall
  • Patent number: 7690596
    Abstract: An apparatus for launching and recovering a lighter-than-air aircraft is provided. The aircraft includes an envelope that is substantially filled before launch with a lift gas and a second gas. The lift gas and second gas are substantially separated in the envelope by a boundary layer of mixed gas, formed by the lift and second gases. The aircraft is supported by one or more masts as the lift gas is injected to achieve the required buoyancy for launch. The aircraft is then released and rises, for example, in an inclined orientation. As the aircraft climbs, the lift gas expands in the envelope, and the second gas is vented therefrom. During horizontal descent, air can be pumped into the envelope to maintain the envelope in a substantially filled configuration. The air and lift gas can be mixed to avoid sloshing and pooling.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 26, 2008
    Date of Patent: April 6, 2010
    Inventors: Martin Eberle, Tim Rabel
  • Publication number: 20090134268
    Abstract: An aerial load lifting system features a non-rigid or blimp-type dirigible providing a lighter-than-air envelope that is placed within a structural shell. The system is designed so that the envelope provides essentially neutral buoyancy for the structure, leaving only the cargo weight to be lifted by the rotors. The structural shell supports the engine, fuel tank, rotors, and transmission system that power the lift and vectoring of the aircraft, in addition to supporting the cargo load. The structural shell transfers the weight of the load directly to the location of the rotors, thus avoiding stress on the envelope.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 26, 2007
    Publication date: May 28, 2009
    Inventor: Richard L. Kulesha
  • Publication number: 20090127385
    Abstract: A system allowing for the controlled propulsion of aircraft, especially buoyant and semi-buoyant airships designed as a symmetric body of revolution, without the need for or use of aerodynamic control surfaces, comprised of a plurality of ducted fan thrusters placed both fore and aft, designed to ingest air flowing at less than free stream velocity. Fans are arranged such that when at standard orientation, the thrust from each is directed tangentially to an arc drawn along the hull from bow to stem. By defining multiple sets of thrusters based upon their location, differential thrust may be applied based upon set membership in order to affect translational and rotational maneuvering of the aircraft.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 6, 2008
    Publication date: May 21, 2009
    Inventor: Michael Todd Voorhees
  • Publication number: 20090072084
    Abstract: The present invention describes lighter-than-air vehicles. An exemplary embodiment of the present invention provides a lighter-than-air vehicle having a payload module, the payload module including an engine. Furthermore, the lighter-than-air vehicle includes a non-rigid envelope in communication with the payload module. The lighter-than-air vehicle also provides a propulsion system that includes a plurality of thrusters, the thrusters positioned substantially near the equatorial plane of the non-rigid envelope. In an alternative exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a lighter-than-air vehicle comprising a payload module and a non-rigid envelope in communication with the payload module. Furthermore, the lighter-than-air vehicle includes a hydraulic propulsion system in communication with the non-rigid envelope and the payload module.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 19, 2008
    Publication date: March 19, 2009
    Applicant: Blackwater Airships, LLC
    Inventor: Richard Hankinson
  • Publication number: 20090045284
    Abstract: An orientation system is disclosed for a lighter-than-air aircraft having a lower stage suspended from an envelope. The orientation system includes cords interconnecting the envelope and the lower stage and means for adjusting the length of at least one of the cords between the lower stage and the envelope. Adjusting the length produces a shift in the angle of attack of the envelope with respect to the lower stage.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 17, 2007
    Publication date: February 19, 2009
    Inventor: Adam N. Chu
  • Patent number: 7490794
    Abstract: An airship including a hull having a lenticular shape and a fairing attached to the hull to act as a stall strip and reduce the lift generated by the hull. The hull is symmetrical along a central horizontal plane and the fairing may be positioned along the central horizontal plane. The fairing may have a triangular shape, a semi-circular shape or any other shape capable of disrupting the flow of air over the hull.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 21, 2005
    Date of Patent: February 17, 2009
    Assignee: LTAS Holdings, LLC
    Inventor: George H. Heaven, Jr.
  • Patent number: 7472865
    Abstract: A dehumidification system for removing water vapor from the within the envelope of an airship comprises a pressurizer valve, a blower and a dehumidifier attached to the airship. The pressurizer valve releases air from the envelope and directs the air to the blower. The blower forces the air through the dehumidifier where the air is dried to a desired dew point. The dried air is then forced back into the envelope of the airship, thus reducing the weight of the airship and reducing the amount of condensate that may form during an ascent.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 15, 2005
    Date of Patent: January 6, 2009
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Steven L. Sinsabaugh, Ann M. Dirling, Kurtis D. Kandel
  • Patent number: 7469857
    Abstract: An differential expansion system and method for balloon buoyancy control which includes a zero-pressure envelope and a superpressure envelope. A gas transfer device is positioned between the envelopes to facilitate the transfer of lift gases that are lighter than air between the envelopes. The superpressure envelope and the gas transfer device can be located inside the zero-pressure envelope. Alternatively, the zero-pressure envelope, the superpressure envelope, and the gas transfer device can be located inside a zero-pressure envelope.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 9, 2004
    Date of Patent: December 30, 2008
    Assignee: University of Massachusetts
    Inventor: Paul B. Voss
  • Publication number: 20080251635
    Abstract: An apparatus for launching and recovering a lighter-than-air aircraft is provided. The aircraft includes an envelope that is substantially filled before launch with a lift gas and a second gas. The lift gas and second gas are substantially separated in the envelope by a boundary layer of mixed gas, formed by the lift and second gases. The aircraft is supported by one or more masts as the lift gas is injected to achieve the required buoyancy for launch. The aircraft is then released and rises, for example, in an inclined orientation. As the aircraft climbs, the lift gas expands in the envelope, and the second gas is vented therefrom. During horizontal descent, air can be pumped into the envelope to maintain the envelope in a substantially filled configuration. The air and lift gas can be mixed to avoid sloshing and pooling.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 26, 2008
    Publication date: October 16, 2008
    Inventors: Martin Eberle, Tim Rabel
  • Publication number: 20080179454
    Abstract: An airship may include a hull substantially shaped as an oblate spheroid, one or more frame members defining a support structure, wherein the support structure forms at least a partial support for the hull, at least one horizontal stabilizing member operably coupled to a lower surface of the airship, and at least one horizontal stabilizing member having a first end and a second end. The at least one horizontal stabilizing member may define an anhedral configuration. The airship may also include a vertical stabilizing member having a first end pivotally coupled to the airship and a second end oriented to remain below an upper surface of the airship. The vertical stabilizing member may be configured to pivot within a vertical plane, and the first end of the vertical stabilizing member and the first end of the at least one horizontal stabilizing member may be operably coupled to one another.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 18, 2007
    Publication date: July 31, 2008
    Inventor: Pierre Balaskovic
  • Patent number: 7380750
    Abstract: An apparatus and associated method for launching and recovering a lighter-than-air aircraft are provided. The aircraft includes an envelope that is substantially filled before launch with a lift gas and a second gas. The lift gas and second gas are substantially separated in the envelope by a boundary layer of mixed gas, formed by the lift and second gases. The aircraft is supported by one or more masts as the lift gas is injected to achieve the required buoyancy for launch. The aircraft is then released and rises, for example, in an inclined orientation. As the aircraft climbs, the lift gas expands in the envelope, and the second gas is vented therefrom. During horizontal descent, air can be pumped into the envelope to maintain the envelope in a substantially filled configuration. The air and lift gas can be mixed to avoid sloshing and pooling.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 17, 2006
    Date of Patent: June 3, 2008
    Inventors: Martin Eberle, Tim Rabel