It’s almost a hundred years since the Hindenburg took to the skies and Silicon Valley is working on a successor to the world’s largest aircraft.
Check out Pathfinder 1, a prototype electric airship backed by Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, a huge vessel larger than 3 Boeing 737 put together. The Pathfinder 1 is almost 125 meters long and is the largest ship since the Hindenburg from the 1930s.
Even though they share the same look, the all-electric Pathfinder 1 uses helium as a lifting gas, not the unstable hydrogen, held in giant nylon cells.
The huge airship looks like a technical wonder, using 12 electric motors with diesel generators and batteries that will give it a top speed of 75mph.
The Pathfinder 1 is built by a company called LTA Research as a way to help create climate-friendly air travel. The world’s biggest aircraft has been in the making for about a decade, and will now be put to the test.
“The Pathfinder 1 proof of concept aircraft combines the best historical design, modern materials, and new, patented engineering and manufacturing techniques to create a next-generation airship that is safer, stronger, and more efficient than ever before,” writes the company on their website.
If you’re an AV geek or just passionate about vehicles in general, their website has a great breakdown of most airship components, what they’re made of and what they do.
TechCrunch also has a cool write-up about the tests and the challenges involved in creating such an airship, as well as the regulation hurdles it will have to clear.
“It’s been 10 years of blood, sweat and tears,” LTA CEO Alan Weston told TechCrunch on the eve of the unveiling. “Now we must show that this can reliably fly in real-world conditions. And we’re going to do that.”
We look forward to seeing it take off as well.