AUTONOMOUS FLYING SHIPS FOR INTER-ISLAND AND INLAND WATERS TRANSPORT
In Europe, many archipelagos and inland waterways can be found. The use of such waterways for the airborne transportation of both goods and persons has huge potential, and in many cases is the only possible way. In this cases, the transportation of goods and persons by airplanes or ships has many drawbacks. The first have the problem of cost and environmental impact, while the second, while allowing larger payloads, have the drawback of limited speed. Additionally, both are extremely low energy efficient at high speed. AIRSHIP envisions an innovative use of a known transportation mean: flying ships. Such vehicles (also known as ekranoplans or wing-in-ground -WIG- vehicles) are designed and built to take advantage of the ground effect, that allows these crafts to fly with enhanced lift and reduced drag. WIGS inherit all the advantages of conventional airborne transportation, while being more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, both from the carbon footprint and the acoustic noise pollution point of view. AIRSHIP will study and develop new technologies in zero-emission power, on-boar AI and in automatic flight control that overcome the challenging technological problems that flying in ground effect poses, allowing such vehicles to become autonomous so they can be effectively used in a wide range of business applications and services, leading to new aviation business models. Our aim is to lay the foundations of a new class of fully electrical unmanned aircraft system, the UWV (Unmanned WIG Vehicle) that brings together speed, flexibility and energy efficiency.